The role of insulin-specific helper and suppressor T cells in the H-2-linked genetic control of antibody responses to heterologous insulins was examined in vitro. These data demonstrate that pork insulin stimulates both primed helper T cells and dominant suppressor T cells in all nonresponder strains tested. Thus, the nonresponder phenotype is attributed to the activation of specific suppressor T cells rather than to an absence of helper T cell activity. Examination of the antigenic cross-reactivity patterns of pork insulin-primed helper and suppressor T cells in various strains demonstrates that fine specificity of the helper T cells differs from that of the suppressor T cells and that the patterns of antigenic cross-reactivity of these subpopulations are controlled by the H-2 gene complex. Furthermore, in a given strain of mice variants of insulin that stimulate helper T cells that cross-react with mouse insulin also stimulate dominant suppressor T cells that cross-react with mouse insulin. Such variants of insulin are perceived as nonimmunogenic. These observations raise the possibility that nonresponsiveness that is controlled by H-2-linked genes results from the activation of regulatory mechanisms involved in maintaining self-tolerance.