We have derived 33 independent T cell clones from the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of a patient with subacute sclerosing panencephalitis using a single T cell cloning method. 6% (2 of 33) of these clones express the T cell receptor gamma (TCR-gamma) protein and are called CSF TCR-gamma clones. Phenotypic analyses of the CSF TCR-gamma clones indicate that they are WT-31-, CD3+, CD4-, and CD8-. The TCR-gamma protein exists on the cell surface as part of an 85-kD disulphide-linked dimer noncovalently associated with the CD3 polypeptides. The CSF TCR-gamma clones have NK-like activity that can be inhibited by anti-CD3 mAbs. Both CSF TCR-gamma clones proliferated in response to anti-CD3 mAbs coupled to Sepharose beads and/or IL-2. Furthermore, stimulation of one of these clones with anti-CD3 mAbs results in a rapid rise in intracellular calcium. These data suggest that T cells bearing the CD3-TCR-gamma protein complex are functional and play a role in the human immune response.