A previous study indicated that Ca++ ionophores in conjunction with the phorbol ester 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol 13-acetate (TPA) could induce normal T lymphocytes to express receptors for the T cell growth factor, interleukin 2 (IL 2), to secrete IL 2, and to proliferate (1). Here we used long-term alloreactive Lyt-2+ cytotoxic or T4+ "helper" T cell clones. In response to their specific alloantigen, all of the clones secreted IFN-gamma but only the T4+ clone secreted IL 2 and proliferated in response to the appropriate alloantigen in the absence of exogenous IL 2. The Ca++ ionophore ionomycin and TPA, used in conjunction, mimicked the effect of specific alloantigen on these T cell clones, i.e., they induced the secretion of IFN-gamma in all clones and the secretion of IL 2 in the T4+ clone. In the absence of exogenous IL 2, a proliferative response was induced only for the IL 2 secreting clone. Increased sensitivity to exogenous IL 2 for some T cell clones was also observed after either alloantigen or ionomycin and TPA treatment; this could be correlated with an increase in the expression of IL 2 receptors 6 hr after a pulse with ionomycin and TPA. These results suggest that, for a given T cell clone, activation of the Ca++ -dependent protein kinase c can replace the antigen-receptor triggering events leading to interleukin secretion and increased expression of IL 2 receptors but cannot substitute for the IL 2 dependent triggering of the IL 2 receptor.