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Spleen cells from B10.A mice transfused with B10.D2 blood suppress the immune responses of normal B10. A to B10.D2 in coculture as early as 2 days posttransfusion. In addition, the ability of B10.A mice to respond in cell-mediated lymphocytotoxicity (CML) is significantly impaired as early as 2 days after B10.D2 transfusion. Experiments were performed to characterize the cells mediating the suppressive effect and to determine whether the inability of transfused mice to generate a cytotoxic response is due to an inhibition of IL-2 production. To characterize the suppressor cells, spleen cells from B10.A mice were assayed 2 or 16 days after B10.D2 transfusion for the ability to suppress mixed lymphocyte culture (MLC) and CML responses of normal B10.A mice in coculture. The putative suppressor cells were either passed over a Sephadex G-10 or nylon wool column, treated with anti-Thy antibody or left untreated before addition to the coculture. Untreated cells from transfused mice suppressed the CML response of normal B10.A both 2 and 16 days posttransfusion, while the effect on the MLC response was inconsistent. Passage of the cells over Sephadex G-10 or nylon wool before assaying abrogated the suppressive effect, while treatment with anti-Thy antibody had no effect. These results suggest that the suppressor cells appearing shortly after blood transfusion have the characteristics of macrophages and not T lymphocytes. To determine the effect of transfusion on IL-2 production, cells from transfused mice were assayed for their ability to produce IL-1 and IL-2 and for the formation of IL-2 receptors. In addition, the effect of exogenous IL-1 and IL-2 on restoring the CML response of transfused mice to normal was assayed. The production of IL-1 by transfused mice was normal, while the production of IL-2 was significantly suppressed both 2 and 16 days posttransfusion. Activated cells from normal and transfused mice showed equal ability to absorb IL-2, indicating that IL-2 receptor formation is normal after transfusion. The addition of exogenous IL-2, but not IL-1, to CML cultures containing cells from transfused mice as responders restored the response to normal. These results indicate that the inability of transfused mice to respond in CML is due, at least in part, to an inability to produce IL-2. This could be mediated by prostaglandins released by activated macrophages.