The cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) response against the male-specific antigen H-Y in C57BL/6 (B6, H-2b) mice is regulated by the I-Ab and Db molecules. From previous studies, we concluded that the bm12 I-Ab mutant does not respond to H-Y, because of a deletion in its T-helper-cell repertoire. We now demonstrate that two Db mutants, bm13 and bm14, also fail to generate a CTL response to H-Y. The bm12 class-II mutant on one hand and the bm13 and bm14 class-I mutants on the other complemented each other for the H-Y-specific CTL response in (bm12 X bm13)F1 and (bm 12 X bm 14)F1 hybrids. This indicates that the need for tolerance of the mutant class II and class I molecules in these hybrids does not create deletions in the I-Ab-restricted T helper cell and Db-restricted CTL repertoire for H-Y. This study constitutes the first demonstration with H-2 mutants that a CTL response controlled by class I and class II MHC molecules is complemented in an F1 cross between a class I and a class II nonresponder. (B6 X bm 13)F1 and (B6 X bm 14)F1 hybrids only responded to H-Y when the antigen was presented on F1 or B6 antigen-presenting cells (apc) but not on Db mutant apc. B6 or Db mutant responders rendered neonatally tolerant of each other failed to respond to the H-Y antigen presented on the tolerogenic allogeneic cell. In the tolerized animals, a response was only seen with responder (B6) type T cells and responder type (B6) apc, indicating that both the T cell source and the MHC type of the apc have to be taken into account in this system. Thus, Ir genes may act at the level of both the T cell repertoire and antigen presentation.