We have investigated which T cell subclass defined by cytolysis with monoclonal anti-Lyt-1.2 and anti-Lyt-2.2 antibodies is required to adoptively transfer the ability to reject skin grafts. B6.Thy-1.1 spleen cells immune to graft antigens were fractionated with antibody plus C' and transferred to adult thymectomized, irradiated, bone marrow-reconstituted (ATXBM) B6.Thy-1.2 hosts that were simultaneously grafted with BALB.B skin. We found that when the ATXBM hosts were used 6 wk after irradiation and marrow reconstitution, both Lyt-1-depleted and Lyt-2-depleted immune spleen cells could transfer the ability to promptly reject skin grafts. However, such ATXBM recipients of Lyt-2-depleted cells that had rejected skin grafts were found to contain graft-specific CTL that were largely of host (B6.Thy-1.2) origin. When ATXBM hosts were used for the experiment 1 wk after irradiation and marrow reconstitution, no host-derived graft-specific CTL could be detected. However, graft rejection occurred in recipients of anti-Lyt-1- or anti-Lyt-2 plus C'-treated immune cells and specific CTL were generated from spleen cells of both groups. Thus, in the absence of a host-derived response, adoptively transferred immune Lyt-2+ cells, either resistant to, or that escaped from, antibody plus C' treatment, are able to expand in response to the antigenic stimulus provided by the graft. A more complete elimination of specific T cell subclasses is therefore needed to assess the relative contribution of a particular subset to the graft rejection process.