The c-rel protooncogene encodes a member of the Rel/nuclear factor (NF)-κB family of transcriptional factors. To assess the role of the transcriptional activation domain of c-Rel in vivo, we generated mice expressing a truncated c-Rel (Δc-Rel) that lacks the COOH-terminal region, but retains a functional Rel homology domain. Mice with an homozygous mutation in the c-rel region encoding the COOH terminus of c-Rel (c-relΔCT/ΔCT) display marked defects in proliferative and immune functions. c-relΔCT/ΔCT animals present histopathological alterations of hemopoietic tissues, such as an enlarged spleen due to lymphoid hyperplasia, extramedullary hematopoiesis, and bone marrow hypoplasia. In older c-relΔCT/ΔCT mice, lymphoid hyperplasia was also detected in lymph nodes, liver, lung, and stomach. These animals present a more severe phenotype than mice lacking the entire c-Rel protein. Thus, in c-relΔCT/ΔCT mice, the lack of c-Rel activity is less efficiently compensated by other NF-κB proteins.