The presence of suppressor cells and their mediators has made it difficult to induce B cell mitogenic or immune responses in rat spleen cell cultures. In the present study, we have defined culture conditions required for induction of in vitro thymic independent (TI) immune responses in the rat. Rat spleen cell cultures support low responses to various trinitrophenyl (TNP) haptenated antigens including TNP-Brucella abortus (TNP-BA), TNP-lipopolysaccharide [LPS; either phenol (Ph)- or butanol (Bu)-water extracted], TNP-Ficoll, and TNP-dextran. However all of these antigens induced good splenic anti-TNP PFC responses when given at appropriate doses in vitro. When spleen cells were depleted of adherent cells and cultured with TI antigens in vitro, good anti-TNP PFC responses were seen with TNP-BA, whereas, lower responses were induced by TNP-LPS (Ph or Bu). No responses were observed in cultures incubated with either TNP-Ficoll or TNP-dextran. Purified splenic B cell cultures [prepared by panning on plates coated with anti-rat F(ab)2] supported good responses to TNP-LPS (Ph or Bu) and TNP-Ba. The addition of irradiated splenic adherent cells (macrophages, Mφ) to either Mφ-depleted or purified B cell cultures completely abrogated in vitro responses to TNP-BA or TNP-LPS (Ph or Bu). Purified splenic B cell cultures generally responded poorly TNP-Ficoll or TNP-dextran. Addition of indomethacin (IM) to spleen cell cultures abrogated suppression and allowed anti-TNP PFC responses to TNP-BA, TNP-LPS (Ph or Bu), TNP-Ficoll, and TNP-dextran. Furthermore, nude spleen cell cultures treated with IM, also allowed significant TNP-Ficoll and TNP-dextran immune responses; however, untreated cultures did not respond to these antigens. Our studies indicate that rat splenic B cell cultures are responsive to TI antigens, and highest responses occur with the murine TI-1 class, e.g., TNP-BA and TNP-LPS. Inhibition of suppression with IM restored splenic B cell responses to the murine TI-2 class, i.e., TNP-Ficoll and TNP-dextran.