Contrary to existing dogma, evidence is presented that proliferative responses of mature unprimed T cells to Mlsa antigens involve CD8+ cells as well as CD4+ cells. The response of CD8+ cells to Mlsa antigens proved to be heavily dependent on help from CD4+ cells, and responses were stronger in three I-E+ strain combinations than in an I-E- combination. In I-E+ combinations, CD8+ blast cells accounted for 20-25% of the blasts generated from unseparated T cells responding to Mlsa-bearing stimulator cells in vitro; similar findings applied to blast cells generated in vivo. The observation that the majority (greater than or equal to 50%) of Mlsa-stimulated CD8+ cells (and CD4+ cells) were V beta 6+ indicated that CD8+ cells respond to Mlsa antigens, per se, rather than to nonspecific stimuli. Whether CD4+ and CD8+ cells use the same or different H-2-restricting elements to respond to Mlsa antigens has yet to be resolved.