Cultured human lymphoid cells RPMI 8866 at different stages of their growth cycle vary in their susceptibility to lysis by rabbit, human, and guinea pig complement activated by HL-A antibodies or heterologous antibodies directed to membrane antigens; cells in G(1) phase are the least sensitive to lysis. To investigate the cause of differential susceptibility of cells RPMI 8866 to lysis, the expression of HL-A determinants and the ability of cells to react with complement were investigated. No change was detected in the density of HL-A antigens on RPMI 8866 cells in synchronous growth as determined by quantitative microabsorption assays, isotopic antiglobulin tests and yields of soluble HL-A antigens. Cells did not vary during the growth cycle in their ability to interact with complement components and in their capacity to activate the complement system through the classical or alternate pathway. These data suggest that variability in lytic susceptibility is due to changes in the structure of the cell membrane or in its ability to repair complement induced damage at certain intervals during the cell cycle. Therefore, this cell line constitutes a useful model to investigate the final steps of the cytolytic reaction.