Ala-1 (activated lymphocyte antigen-1) is a murine alloantigen expressed only on activated peripheral T and B lymphocytes. The presence or absence of Ala-1 on specific functional lymphocyte subsets was determined by treating the relevant cell population with anti-Ala-1 and complement, and assaying for residual functional activity. By this method, Ala-1 was shown to be on in vivo primed killer T cells cytotoxic for allogeneic tumor cells. It was also found on helper T cells generated in vivo to sheep red blood cells, and on IgM and IgG plaque-forming cells (PFC) to sheep red blood cells. In contrast, splenic precursors of helper cells and of IgM PFC to sheep red blood cells were completely resistant to treatment with anti-Ala-1 and complement. These findings indicate that effector cells can be distinguished from their nonactivated precursors by their expression of Ala-1.