MRL-lpr/lpr mice develop massive lymphadenopathy and autoimmunity. There is evidence that both migration and local proliferation contribute to the accumulation of Ly-2-, L3T4-, 6B2+ T cells in the peripheral lymph node (PLN). Mel-14 is an antibody which binds to the lymphocyte lymph node homing receptor (gp90(Mel-14)) and can block migration of lymphocytes to the PLN. Treatment of mice from birth to 11 wk of age with Mel-14 and another rat IgG2a mAb, 6B2, resulted in reduction (10- to 20-fold) in lymphadenopathy. Mel-14, but not 6B2, preferentially reduced the percentages of Thy-1+, 6B2+ lymphocytes in the lymph node. Treatment with a third antibody, anti-Ly-1, had no effect on lymphadenopathy. Mel-14 treatment resulted in diversion of the Ly-2-, L3T4-, 6B2+, gp90(Mel-14) cells to the spleen and consequently induced marked splenomegaly. Thymocytes from MRL-lpr/lpr and MRL-+/+ mice were analyzed by two-color flow cytometry analysis after depletion of Ly-2+ and L3T4+ T cells. There was no difference in the percent of Ly-2-, L3T4-, 6B2+, gp90(Mel-14) positive thymocytes comparing these two strains. Mel-14 treatment did not alter Ig levels or autoantibody production. These studies suggest Mel-14 reduced lymphadenopathy by interfering with homing to PLN, whereas 6B2 may have interfered with marrow production of precursor cells or killed 6B2+ cells after they exited the marrow. The data are consistent with the idea that lymphadenopathy occurs in MRL-lpr/lpr mice due to increased homing gp90(Mel-14) T cells to the PLN and that gp90(Mel-14) is a necessary receptor for the abnormal 6B2+ T cells.