The cellular mechanisms of skin graft rejection with allelic H-2 class I differences were studied by examining the effect on graft survival of in vivo administration of anti-Lyt-2.2 mAb, anti-L3T4 mAb, or both to recipient mice. The injections of anti-Lyt-2.2 mAb and anti-L3T4 mAb caused selective depletions of Lyt-2+ cells and L3T4+ cells, respectively. Injection of anti-Lyt-2.2 mAb significantly prolonged graft survival in 7 of 12 combinations of H-2D-end difference, but did not prolong graft survival in 5 other combinations of H-2D-end difference, or in 2 combinations of H-2K-end difference. Injection of anti-L3T4 mAb did not prolong graft survival in any combinations with class I difference tested. Injection of anti-L3T4 mAb plus anti-Lyt-2.2 mAb markedly prolonged graft survival in the combinations with class I difference in which anti-Lyt-2.2 mAb had no effect and overcame the effect of anti-Lyt-2.2 mAb in those in which anti-Lyt-2.2 mAb had an effect in prolonging graft survival. These results indicated that in combinations in which anti-Lyt-2.2 mAb did not prolong graft survival, class I antigen stimulated L3T4+ effector cells when Lyt-2+ cells were blocked and Lyt-2+ effector cells when L3T4+ cells were blocked. On the other hand, in the combinations in which anti-Lyt-2.2 mAb prolong graft survival, these antigens initially caused preferential stimulation of Lyt-2+ but not L3T4+ effector cells, although delayed activation of L3T4+ effector cells occurred when Lyt-2+ cells were blocked. Furthermore, a significant correlation was found between the effect of anti-Lyt-2.2 mAb in prolonging graft survival and the failure of recipient mice to produce H-2 antibody. These results can be taken as evidence that L3T4+ effector cells are not involved in the initial phase of graft rejection in these combinations.