Cross-linking of membrane IgG2a or IgD on the B cell lymphoma A20.1 resulted in the elaboration of lymphokines which were able to support the growth of HT-2 cells and to induce increased Ia expression of resting B cells. Unstimulated A20.1 cells did not produce detectable levels of lymphokine activity. Lymphokine secretion did not occur in response to cross-linking of MHC class II (Ia) or class I (H2K) molecules. The kinetics for secretion were rapid, with detectable levels of lymphokine arising within 3 to 4 h of stimulation. Maximal lymphokine production was reached by 8 to 10 h. Soluble intact anti-Ig antibodies failed to stimulate lymphokine production due to Fc-mediated effects. This was concluded based on the fact that soluble F(ab')2 fragments of anti-IgG, but not soluble intact antibody, stimulated the production of lymphokine by A20.1 cells. Based on serologic criteria, membrane Ig cross-linking by ligand induced secretion of IL-2 but not IL-4 by A20.1 cells. Induction of Ia expression by resting B cells in response to A20.1 supernatant was not mimicked by stimulation with IL-1, -3, -5, or -6 either singly or in combination. Furthermore, preliminary physiochemical characterization revealed that the Ia-inducing factor in A20.1 supernatant has a molecular weight greater than 50,000. These data suggest that the Ia-inducing activity is a novel lymphokine. Thus, this report describes the first evidence for the existence of a B cell tropic lymphokine produced by B cells in response to Ag receptor-mediated signal transduction.