Bcause the gut-associated lymphoreticular tissue (GALT), e.g., Peyer's patches (PP), of X-linked immuno-deficient (xid) mice possesses a subpopulation of mature B cells, we have characterized the ability of xid mice to respond to the thymic-dependent antigen sheep erythrocytes (SRBC) given by the oral route. Gastric intubation of SRBC to xid (CBA/N x DBA/2)F1 male or CBA/N mice, followed by the in vitro culture of dissociated PP cells with SRBC, resulted in IgM, IgG1, IgG2, and high IgA anti-SRBC plaque-forming cell (PFC) responses. The addition of unprimed PP but not splenic T cells to splenic xid B cell cultures resulted in IgM anti-SRBC PFC responses, suggesting the importance of GALT T cells for support of the immune responses to SRBC by splenic B cells from xid mice. Furthermore, purified PP T cells from SRBC orally primed xid mice supported in vitro IgA anti-SRBC PFC responses in B cell cultures from either the PP or the spleens of nonprimed xid mice. Higher IgA responses, however, occurred in PP, when compared with splenic B cell cultures. Additional evidence that the GALT of xid mice contains functional IgA precursor cells was provided by the finding that cloned H-2(k) PP T helper cels (PP T(h) A) supported IgA responses in PP B cell cultures derived from (CBA/N x C3H/HeN)F1 male (xid) mice. On the other hand, splenic B cells from these xid mice, in the presence of PP T(h) A cells, did not support in vitro responses. These results suggest that unique subpopulations of T cells occur in the GALT of xid and normal mice; one T cell subpopulation may induce immature B cells to become precursor IgA cells in the PP. A separate GALT T cell subpopulation, e.g., isotype-specific helper T cells, effectively collaborates with mature IgA B cells for the induction of IgA responses to orally administered antigen. When xid mice were gastric intubated with SRBC, followed by i.p. injection of SRBC, good splenic IgA anti-SRBC PFC responses were seen. Salivary and serum IgA antibodies were also detected in these xid mice. Nevertheless, the magnitude of the anti-SRBC response in xid mice was lower than that seen in similarly treated normal mice. These studies indicate that the GALT of both xid and normal mice possess unique populations of T cells that support in vitro responses in xid B cell cultures from either the spleen or the PP, which direct the mature B cell populations present toward IgA isotype-specific responses. Thus, the secretory immune system is operative in these immunodeficient mice and may provide host protection against environmentally encountered pathogens.