The intravenous sensitization of C57BL/6 (B6) mice with class I H-2-disparate B6-C-H-2bm1 (bm1) spleen cells resulted in the abrogation of CD8+ T cell-mediated anti-bm1 (proliferative and interleukin 2-producing) T helper (Th) cell activities. In vitro stimulation of lymphoid cells from these mice with bm1 cells, however, generated a reduced, but appreciable, anti-bm1 cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) response. Moreover, the anti-bm1 CTL response, upon stimulation with [bm1 x B6-C-H-2bm12 (bm12)]F1 spleen cells, was enhanced when compared with the response induced upon stimulation with bm1 cells. These in vitro results were reflected on in vivo graft rejection responses; bm1 skin grafts engrafted in the bm1-presensitized B6 mice exhibited prolonged survival, whereas (bm1 x bm12)F1 grafts placed collateral to bm1 grafts (dual engrafted mice) inhibited the tolerance to bm1. In the B6 mice 1-2 d after rejecting the bm1 grafts, anti-bm1 Th activities remained marginal, whereas potent anti-bm1 CTL responses were found to be generated from their spleen cells. Administration in vivo of anti-CD4 antibody into bm1-presensitized, dual graft-engrafted mice prolonged bm1 graft survival and interfered with enhanced induction of anti-bm1 CTL activity. These results indicate that anti-class I alloantigen (bm1) tolerance as induced by intravenous presensitization with the relevant antigens is not ascribed to the elimination of CD8+ CTL precursors, but to the specific inactivation of CD8+ Th cells, whose function can be bypassed by activating third-party Th cells.