Recent observations suggest that the src-related tyrosine protein kinase p59fyn may be involved in antigen-induced T lymphocyte activation. As a result of alternative splicing, p59fyn exists as two isoforms that differ exclusively within a short sequence spanning the end of the Src Homology 2 (SH2) region and the beginning of the tyrosine protein kinase domain. While one p59fyn isoform (fynB) is highly expressed in brain, the alternative product (fynT) is principally found in T lymphocytes. To further understand the role of p59fyn in T cell activation and to test the hypothesis that p59fynT serves a tissue-specific function in T lymphocytes, we have examined the effects of expression of activated versions (tyrosine 528 to phenylalanine 528 mutants) of either form of p59fyn on the physiology of an antigen-specific mouse T cell hybridoma. Our results demonstrated that the two forms of fyn, expressed in equivalent amounts, efficiently enhanced antibody-induced T cell receptor (TCR)-mediated signals. In contrast, only p59fynT increased interleukin 2 production in response to antigen stimulation. This finding implies that the distinct p59fyn isoform expressed in T lymphocytes regulates the coupling of TCR stimulation by antigen/major histocompatibility complex to lymphokine production.