The above overview of the experimental data clearly indicates that the T3 molecular complex is intimately involved in T cell activation. The precise role of the T3 complex in the activation process, however, is not clearly understood. The surface association of the T3 complex with the antigen receptor, along with the ability of antibodies to these molecules to render T cells receptive to IL2, reveal a possible mechanism by which specific antigen initiates T cell activation and growth. However, it would be difficult to reconcile this specific effect of anti-T3 antibodies with their effect on CTL function. Since the T3 complex is not a specific marker of any particular effector T cell population, but it is found on all T lymphocytes, we favor the hypothesis that the complex is involved in a more fundamental step of T cell activation, and we believe that triggering of the 'lethal hit', expression of IL2 receptors, and secretion of IL2 are mere manifestations of this basic process. The natural ligand of the antigen receptor is obviously the specific antigen. However, the natural ligand of the T3 complex is unknown. Possibly, its natural ligand is the antigen receptor itself after it has interacted with antigen. A simple scenario, then of the early events of T cell activation would include antigen recognition and binding, followed by an interaction between the antigen receptor and the T3 complex which then activates or allows expression of specific pathways depending on the particular effector population involved. Thus, the inhibition of CTL function by anti-T3 antibodies could be explained by interference with the antigen receptor-T3 complex interaction following target cell recognition. This interaction may be the event that signals the initiation of the 'lethal hit' process.