A human T4+/Leu-8+ T cell clone (YA2) was established by phytohemagglutinin activation and interleukin 2 (IL 2) propagation. Functional characterization of this clone demonstrated that it provided potent help towards Ig production by pokeweed mitogen-stimulated B cells in the presence of small numbers of autologous T cells or by Staphylococcus aureus Cowan I (SAC)-activated B cells in the presence of B cell growth factor (BCGF). YA2 provided no help to resting B cells and minimal help to either unactivated B cells cultured with BCGF or SAC-activated B cells. Supernatant generated from clone YA2 by IL 2 stimulation had significant B cell differentiation activity but no BCGF or IL 2 activity. Thus, YA2 is a T4+/Leu-8+ potent direct helper only to B cells that are activated and proliferating due to its selective secretion of a differentiation factor, and not an activation and growth factor. The availability of phenotypically defined cloned populations of T cells with restricted functional helper activity related to the secretion of selected B cell tropic factors should prove useful in the dissection of the role of individual T cell subsets in the regulation of the human B cell cycle.