In the present study, we have isolated and characterized the Lyt-1+, -2- T contrasuppressor (Tcs) cells from mice systemically primed with SRBC. Adoptive transfer of splenic Tcs cells from these mice abrogates oral tolerance and support IgM and IgG anti-SRBC plaque-forming cell (PFC) responses; however, unlike the responses seen after transfer of Tcs cells derived from orally primed mice, low IgA responses were seen. Mice systemically primed with lower SRBC doses (0.01 to 1%) exhibit contrasuppression only within the L3T4- T cell subset, whereas mice primed with a high dose of SRBC (10%), harbored Lyt-1+, -2- Tcs cells in both the L3T4+ and L3T4- subsets. Both the L3T4- and L3T4+ Tcs cell subsets supported IgM and IgG responses when adoptively transferred to orally tolerized mice, and when added to tolerized spleen cell cultures. Splenic Tcs cells from systemically primed mice supported mainly IgG1 an IgG2b subclass anti-SRBC PFC responses, a pattern also seen with Tcs cells derived from orally primed mice. Both L3T4+ and L3T4- Tcs cells from systemically primed mice exhibited well established characteristics of contrasuppressor cells including binding to Vicia villosa lectin and expression of I-J. The splenic effector Tcs cells which support IgM, IgG1 and IgG2b anti-SRBC PFC responses are antigen-specific, since both L3T4- and L3T4+ Tcs cells from spleens of mice primed with 10% SRBC reverse tolerance to SRBC, but not to horse erythrocytes (HRBC). Further, both L3T4- and L3T4+ Tcs cells from HRBC-primed mice reversed tolerance to IgM and IgG anti-HRBC, but not to anti-SRBC responses. Isolation of T3-positive Lyt-1+, -2- and L3T4- Tcs cell subsets by flow cytometry followed by adoptive transfer, showed that effector Tcs cells express T3 and presumably contain an Ag-R (TCR-T3 complex). These studies show that systemic priming with heterologous RBC induces splenic Ag specific Tcs cells in a dose-dependent manner, which support IgM and IgG subclass responses, but not IgA responses.