Homeostatic proliferation of naive T cells transferred to T cell-deficient syngeneic mice is driven by low-affinity self-MHC/peptide ligands and the cytokine IL-7. In addition to homeostatic proliferation, a subset of naive T cells undergoes massive proliferation in chronically immunodeficient hosts, but not in irradiated normal hosts. Such rapid T cell proliferation occurs largely independent of homeostatic factors, because it was apparent in the absence of IL-7 and in T cell-sufficient hosts devoid of functional T cell immunity. Strikingly, immunodeficient mice raised under germfree conditions supported only slow homeostatic proliferation, but not the marked T cell proliferation observed in conventionally raised immunodeficient mice. Thus, polyclonal naive T cell expansion in T cell-deficient hosts can be driven predominantly by either self-Ags or foreign Ags depending on the host's previous state of T cell immunocompetency.