In vitro primary antibody responses to limiting concentrations of trinitrophenyl (TNP)-Ficoll were shown to be T cell dependent, requiring the cooperation of T helper (TH) cells, B cells, and accessory cells. Under these conditions, TH cells derived from long-term radiation bone marrow chimeras were major histocompatibility complex (MHC) restricted in their ability to cooperate with accessory cells expressing host-type MHC determinants. The requirement for MHC-restricted self-recognition by TNP-Ficoll-reactive B cells was assessed under these T-dependent conditions. In the presence of competent TH cells, chimeric B cells were found to be MHC restricted, cooperating only with accessory cells that expressed host-type MHC products. In contrast, the soluble products of certain monoclonal T cell lines were able to directly activate B cells in response to TNP-Ficoll, bypassing any requirement for MHC-restricted self-recognition. These findings demonstrate the existence of a novel cell interaction pathway in which B cells as well as TH cells are each required to recognize self-MHC determinants on accessory cells, but are not required to recognize each other. They further demonstrate that the requirement for self-recognition by B cells may be bypassed in certain T-dependent activation pathways.