A B cell lymphoma A20.2J and splenic B cells produced an active material to support the proliferation of an interleukin 2 (IL-2)-dependent T cell line, CTLL-2, by stimulation with both calcium ionophore A23187 and phorbol myristate acetate (PMA). Although the production of the active material was induced by stimulation with A23187 alone in A20.2J cells, both A23187 and PMA were essential for the stimulation of splenic B cells. Neither A20.2J cells nor splenic B cells produced the active material by stimulation with PMA alone. The production was inversely proportional to the concentration of fetal calf serum in culture medium. The active material produced by B cells was indicated to be IL-2 and not B cell-stimulating factor 1 (BSF-1) for the following reasons: 1) the proliferation of CTLL-2 cells in the presence of active material was inhibited by the inclusion of anti-IL-2 receptor or anti-IL-2 in culture medium but not by anti-BSF-1; 2) the material showed no co-mitogenic activity to purified splenic B cells with anti-immunoglobulins and did not support the proliferation of FDC-P2 which are known to grow in the presence of BSF-1; and 3) IL-2 mRNA could be detected in A20.2J and splenic B cells stimulated with A23187 and PMA in Northern blot analysis. Some B cell hybridomas were also shown to produce IL-2 by similar stimulation to A20.2J. Splenic B cells as well as A20.2J cells were able to produce IL-2 by stimulation with anti-immunoglobulins. These results suggest that under certain conditions IL-2 can be produced by splenic B cells, at least some subsets of B cells, and B cell lines.