Monoclonal antibody anti-4B4 was produced by fusing NS1 myeloma with spleen cells of a mouse immunized with Saguinus oedipus lymphocyte. This anti-4B4 antibody defines a 135-KD cell surface protein that is widely distributed throughout the hematopoietic system. More importantly, anti-4B4 is reactive with functionally unique human T cell subsets. Anti-4B4 antibody was reactive with approximately 41% of unfractionated T cells, 41% of T4+ inducer cells, and approximately 43% of T8+ cytotoxic/suppressor population. This antibody subdivided peripheral blood T4+ cells into two functionally distinct populations. The T4+4B4+ subset proliferates relatively poorly upon stimulation with Con A and autologous cell antigens (AMLR) but well on exposure to soluble antigens, and it provides a good helper signal for PWM-induced Ig synthesis. The T4+4B4- subset, in contrast, proliferates well to Con A stimulation and autologous cell antigen (AMLR) but relatively poorly to soluble antigen stimulation, and provides little help to B cells for PWM-induced Ig synthesis. The T4+4B4- subset is largely 2H4+ and functions as the inducer of the T8+ suppressor cells. Thus, the present results suggest that one can divide the human T4 population into two major subsets that are phenotypically and functionally distinct, the human helper inducer subset (T4+4B4+/H.I.) and its reciprocal population defined by anti-2H4, the suppressor inducer subset (T4+2H4+/S.I.).