T cell help is required for the induction of the humoral antibody response to dextran B1355S, a type II thymus-independent bacterial polysaccharide antigen. In the present study we have identified three B cell growth and differentiation factors that can substitute for T cells in the induction of IgM and IgA antibody responses to alpha(1,3) glucan determinants on dextran B1355S. Dextran B1355S stimulated murine B cell cultures supplemented with a combination of murine recombinant interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) and a late-acting B cell growth and differentiation factor, BCGF II, produced both IgA and IgM anti-alpha(1,3) dextran plaque-forming cells (PFC). Interleukin 2 (IL 2) was not required for those responses. In contrast, recombinant IFN-gamma and recombinant IL 2 in combination supported the induction of IgA but not IgM anti-alpha(1,3) dextran PFC. In all cases, depletion of surface IgA-bearing B cells significantly decreased IgA but not IgM anti-dextran responses, indicating that the B cells responding to those lymphokines already were committed to IgA expression. These studies indicate that B cell growth and differentiation factors can exhibit differential effects on the induction of IgA compared with IgM responses.