The interaction of T helper (Th) cells with syngeneic and allogeneic cytotoxic T lymphocyte precursors (CTL.P) has been investigated. Unprimed and mixed lymphocyte culture-primed peripheral T cells were used as a source of Th. Thymocytes, which depend upon exogenous Th cells for activation, were used as a source of cytotoxic precursors. Data is presented that demonstrates that at least two pathways of T-T interaction can lead to the activation of cytotoxic lymphocytes. The first is an allogeneic effect, in which Th cells recognize and respond to alloantigens expressed on CTL.P. The second is the interaction of Th cells with syngeneic CTL.P, in which both cell types are thought to respond to alloantigens on stimulator cells. The latter interaction can be shown to be restricted by H-2-linked determinants when primed Th cells are used and allogeneic effects against thymocytes are minimized. Restricted interactions between unprimed Th cells and thymocyte CTL.P have never been observed. Mechanisms that may explain the difference between the interaction of unprimed and primed Th cells with CTL.P are discussed.