Arthritis was induced by immunization of type II collagen in adjuvant in mice from H-2q-bearing crosses between SWR (H-2q/q) and B10 (H-2b/b mice), two strains known to be resistant to collagen-induced arthritis (CIA). The resistance of B10 is known to be due to its MHC haplotype, but it was postulated that the resistance of SWR mice which expresses the susceptible MHC haplotype could be due to the deletion of close to 50% of the V beta genes of the T cell receptor (TCR) in them. 17% of the F1 hybrids, 33% of the SWR backcrosses, 68% of the B10 backcrosses, and 52% of the F2 hybrids developed arthritis on follow-up to 5 mo after primary immunization with collagen. There was no significant difference in anti-type II collagen antibody titers between the arthritic and nonarthritic mice in each of these crosses. The segregation of the TCR genes with arthritis was determined in the F2 population by typing with F23.1 mAb that reacts with T cells using V beta 8 subfamily genes in their TCRs. SWR mice are F23.1- as V beta 8 genes are deleted in them. All six of arthritic mice homozygous for H-2q, and thus with an H-2 haplotype similar to SWR mice, expressed the F23.1 marker. These studies indicate that for complete susceptibility to collagen-induced arthritis, not only is a susceptible MHC haplotype (H-2q) important, but possibly also the presence of a subset of T cells using certain specific V beta genes in their TCRs. Other background genes may, however, modulate the severity of arthritis.