CTLA-4 is a T cell antigen that is structurally related to CD28 and serves as a high affinity ligand for the B cell antigen B7-1/2. Unlike CD28, the function of CTLA-4 is unclear, although reports have implicated the antigen in the costimulation of T cells. Recently, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI 3-kinase) has been implicated in the costimulatory function of CD28 by virtue of its ability to bind to a pYMNM motif within the cytoplasmic tail of the antigen. In this study, we show that CTLA-4 can also associate with PI 3-kinase as detected by lipid kinase analysis and immunoblotting with anti-p85 antiserum. High pressure liquid chromatographic separation of deacylated lipids showed the presence of a peak corresponding to PI-3-P. Anti-CTLA-4 ligation of the receptor induced a significant increase in the levels of precipitable PI 3-kinase activity. Peptide binding studies revealed that the NH2- and COOH-terminal SH2 domains of p85 bind the CTLA-4 cytoplasmic pYVKM motif with an affinity (ID50: 0.6 and 0.04 microM), that is similar to CD28. CTLA-4 binding to PI 3-kinase provides further evidence that CTLA-4 is not an inert counterreceptor, but rather is coupled to an intracellular signaling molecule with the capacity to regulate cell growth.