IFN-gamma is an immunomodulatory agent which is known to induce or enhance the expression of class II histocompatibility Ag (Ia Ag) on many lymphoid cells and cell lines of diverse origin. However, we have observed that IFN-gamma did not induce the expression of Ia Ag on Ia- human T cell lines. Neither did IFN-gamma enhance the expression of Ia Ag on Ia+ T cells. However, IFN-gamma was able to enhance the expression of class I histocompatibility Ag (HLA-A,B,C Ag) on a number of the T cell lines tested. Experiments with 125I-labeled IFN-gamma showed a relatively small degree of specific binding to these T cell lines. More extensive studies on two of the T cell lines demonstrated 1000 and 2600 IFN-gamma binding receptor sites/cell and binding affinities of 4.0 X 10(-10) M and 7.3 X 10(-10) M. Thus, although IFN-gamma can bind to human T cell lines and enhance class I histocompatibility Ag on these cells, IFN-gamma alone does not appear to regulate expression of class II histocompatibility Ag on T cell lines.