The effects of interleukin-2 (IL-2) on the expression of IL-2 receptors by cloned cytolytic and helper T lymphocytes were studied using three anti-IL-2 receptor antibodies. IL-2 enhanced the expression of IL-2 receptors on all clones tested. A steep dose-response curve was observed with no measurable effect seen below 2 units/ml and maximal IL-2 receptor expression with greater than 5 units/ml. IL-2 receptor expression peaked 24-48 hr after the addition of IL-2. The subsequent decrease in IL-2 receptor expression correlated with a decrease in the levels of IL-2 remaining in the culture supernatants of cytolytic T lymphocyte cells. Removing residual IL-2 from cultures resulted in the rapid return of IL-2 receptor expression to unstimulated levels. The daily addition of low levels of IL-2 to cultures resulted in the prolonged expression of high levels of IL-2 receptors by non-IL-2-producing cloned cytolytic T cells. Cloned helper T cells which make IL-2 showed the initial increase in IL-2 receptor levels, but the daily addition of IL-2 did not prolong IL-2 receptor expression in these cells. These data suggest that IL-2 receptors on those cells which do not make IL-2 are regulated differently from receptors on cells which themselves make IL-2.