Chemical derivatization of tetrameric concanavalin A (Con A) with succinic anhydride or acetic anhydride converts the protein to a dimeric molecule without altering its carbohydrate-binding specificity. At low concentrations, the dose-response curves for the mitogenic stimulation of mouse spleen cells by native Con A and succinyl-Con A are similar. Above lectin concentrations of 10 mug/ml, however, the response to Con A is diminished, while that for succinyl-Con A does not decrease until much higher doses are reached. We have attributed this difference mainly to the higher rate of cell death induced by the native Con A molecule. Con A also shows a greater capacity than succinyl-Con A to agglutinate sheep erythrocytes and to inhibit cap formation by immunoglobulin receptors on spleen cells. Moreover, at low concentrations, Con A induced its glycoprotein receptors to form caps, but succinyl-Con A did not induce cap formation. Addition of antibodies directed against Con A to succinyl-Con A bound on cells restored the properties of agglutination, inhibition of immunoglobulin receptor cap formation, and induction of cap formation by Con A receptors. Similar results have been obtained for acetyl-Con A. These data suggest that the altered biological activities of succinyl-Con A and acetyl-Con A are attributable to their reduced valence.