B7.75-84, a 10-amino-acid peptide derived from the HLA-B7 molecule, prolongs rat heterotopic cardiac allograft survival time (GST) when used with cyclosporine in the Lewis-to-ACI strain combination. We evaluated the ability of B7.75-84 to prolong GST in other strain combinations without cyclosporine and studied the effect of B7.75-84 on the immune response in the Wistar- Furth (WF)-to-ACI strain combination. GST was markedly prolonged in most low- responder (ACI) recipients but only slightly prolonged in the high-responder (Lewis) recipient. Cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) and helper T lymphocyte (HTL) limiting dilution assays (LDA) were performed 10 days after cardiac allografts from WF donors were placed in ACI recipients treated with B7.75- 84. HTL-LDA assays at 10 days posttransplant showed a slight decrease in HTL precursor frequency and a decrease in their IL-2 production in B7.75-84 treated recipients with prolonged GST in response to donor antigen as well as third-party (Lewis) antigen. CTL-LDA assays at day 10 showed no difference in CTL precursor frequency among treated recipients but did show a significant decrease in CTL killing activity against donor cells in recipients with prolonged GST. No significant difference in CTL killing activity was seen against third-party cells. Antibody analysis was performed at day 8 in treated recipients. Serum from B7.75-84-treated recipients with prolonged graft survival generally showed no detectable IgG antibody response against donor MHC class I antigen. All B7.75-84 treated recipients showed a strong IgM response against donor antigen regardless of allograft outcome. Our results suggest that the immunosuppressive effect of B7.75-84 in rats is greater using a low-responder RT1 haplotype. Furthermore, B7.75-84 induces a nonspecific decrease in HTL function while producing a donor-specific decrease in CTL function and a diminished antidonor MHC class I IgG response.