Preparations of LDL-In, an immunosuppressive lipoprotein subfraction, were analyzed for the capacity to directly suppress the response of human lymphocytes to the representative stimulant PHA vis-a-vis indirect mechanisms mediated by soluble factors or cell:cell interactions. Serum lipoprotein subfraction enriched in LDL-In induced a suppressed state in lymphocytes during 18-hr induction cultures. These lymphocytes, whether partially or completely suppressed, when added to fresh responder lymphocytes in the presence of PHA did not suppress the response of the responder lymphocytes. In contrast, the major low density lipoprotein (LDL) did not suppress lymphocytes at equivalent concentration in the induction culture, nor did LDL-exposed lymphocytes suppress responder lymphocytes. The supernatant medium from LDL-In-suppressed lymphocytes did not contain a newly synthesized or released suppressive factor. Finally, LDL-In-suppressed lymphocytes were not rescued by normal lymphocytes. Each of these observations, and previous evidence that adherent cells do not mediate the biologic effects of LDL-In, support the hypothesis that the biologic manifestations of LDL-In suppression of lymphocyte function result from a direct effect on the lymphocyte that is exposed to this lipoprotein, possibly via the previously demonstrated LDL-In receptor.