We used a panel of class II-restricted T cell lines (TCL), generated against trinitrophenyl (TNP)-modified autologous peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), to examine the antigen-presenting functions of various PBMC-derived class II-positive cell types, including adherent cells, B + null cells, and activated T cells. However, activated T cells and transformed or activated B cells differed in their ability to present TNP to the TCL; TNP-modified activated lymphocytes stimulated only a subset of the class II-restricted TCL that responded to class II-positive resting cells. Moreover, certain antigen-specific TCL distinguished between antigen presented on activated T cells and transformed B cells. The differences in stimulatory capacity for particular TCL did not appear to reflect differences in the expression of class II molecules or in the ability of these cells to deliver hormonal signals or process antigen. Instead, the data suggest that differences in the ability of the cells to recognize antigen on the surface of different class II-positive cells may be a function of a secondary cell surface interaction.