Murine monoclonal antibodies OKT3 (IgG2), 64.1 (IgG2), and Leu 4 (IgG1) react with a common membrane antigen on human T cells and induce potent mitogenesis at concentrations of 1 ng/ml, 10 ng/ml, and 100 ng/ml, respectively. Human serum inhibits the mitogenic effect of antibodies OKT3 and 64.1, but not that of Leu 4. The inhibitor in serum has been identified as immunoglobulin G (IgG) as evidenced by the ability of anti-human IgG-Sepharose affinity columns to retain the inhibitory activity. Various immunoglobulin classes and subclasses obtained from human myelomas differ in their ability to inhibit the OKT3-induced activation. The best inhibition is obtained with the IgG subclasses IgG1 and IgG3, followed by IgG2; IgG4, IgM, and IgA have little if any effect. None of the IgG subclasses inhibit the Leu 4-induced mitogenesis. Indomethacin as well as supernatants containing interleukin 2 (IL-2) can reverse the inhibitory effects of IgG. Prostaglandins (PGE1 and PGE2) inhibit both the OKT3- and Leu 4-induced mitogenesis, thus lacking the selectivity seen with IgG. Since stimulation by the monoclonal antibodies requires the participation of monocytes, an interpretation consistent with the present data is that IgG stimulates monocytes via its Fc portion to release prostaglandins and/or other suppressor factors via an indomethacin-sensitive pathway. The inability of IgG to inhibit Leu 4-induced mitogenesis may therefore relate to an inability of the monocyte subpopulation, which mediates the Leu 4 response, to secrete suppressor factors. These data suggest a potential value of the mitogenic monoclonal antibodies as probes in studying monocyte heterogeneity and T-cell-monocyte interactions.