Newborn mononuclear cells are known to have increased suppressor activity when compared with adult cells. However, the precise phenotypic description of the suppressor cell subpopulation has not yet been reported. This study was designed to examine the surface markers on human cord blood cells as defined by monoclonal cells that suppress in vitro pokeweed mitogen-driven immunoglobulin production. The pattern of fluorescence with the 9,6-monoclonal antibody suggested either a decreased density or a partial blocking of E-receptors on cord blood lymphocytes. Otherwise, human cord and adult cells had similar proportions of T cell subpopulations. Different subsets of newborn cells isolated by a monoclonal antibody rosetting technique were tested for suppressor activity. Cord blood lymphocytes recognized by the OKT8 monoclonal antibody consitituted the major functional suppressor cell subpopulation. These cells were present in both E-rosetting and non-E-rosetting populations. Removal of OKT8+ mononuclear cord blood cells abrogated most of the suppressor activity. Thus the major suppressor cell present in cord blood is an OKT8 positive lymphocyte.