Cloned, protein antigen-specific, Ia-restricted T cell lines frequently (approximately 20%) also respond strongly to stimulator cells from strains expressing stimulatory alleles at the chromosome 1-encoded Mls-locus. Furthermore, such responses are blocked by monoclonal antibodies specific for Ia antigens expressed by the stimulator rather than the responder cells. However, such responses show no specificity for polymorphic determinants on Ia molecules, although in such responses, as in primary and secondary T cell responses to stimulating Mls-locus alleles, I-E molecules appear to play a central role. These results, combined with the unique immunobiology of the primary T cell proliferative response to Mls-locus-disparate stimulator cells, suggest to us that this response involves the interaction of the receptor on T cells for antigen:self Ia with a relatively nonpolymorphic region of Ia glycoproteins. This hypothesis is supported by the observation that a monoclonal antibody to the T cell receptor will inhibit both responses, although the response to Mls-locus-disparate stimulators appears to be more sensitive to these antibodies. We propose that the interaction of the T cell receptor with Ia is stabilized by a cell interaction molecule encoded or regulated by the Mls-locus gene product permitting the T cell receptor:Ia glycoprotein interaction to lead to T cell activation.