Culture supernatants of splenic T cells from susceptible CBA mice chronically infected with Trypanosoma cruzi contain a suppressive substance which can inhibit the induction of delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) to a wide range of antigens. The suppressive substance is distinct from T. cruzi antigen inasmuch as the supernatant depleted of any residual T. cruzi antigen by an affinity column still retains the suppressive activity, whereas addition of T. cruzi antigens to control supernatant did not confer suppressive function. The suppressive supernatant does not contain detectable levels of IL-1, IL-2, IL-3, or IFN-gamma but a modest level of IL-1 and IL-2 inhibitory activities. However, both these inhibitory activities elute at a different position from the DTH suppressive activity on gel filtration. The DTH suppressive activity is heat labile (1 h, 56 degrees C), cryostable, but destroyed by trypsin treatment. It binds to ricin but not to lentil lectin. Sepharose 4B gel filtration and HPLC analysis in mild chaotropic agents (urea, ethylene glycol) demonstrate that the suppressive substance has an apparent Mr of 30 to 60 kDa, but full DTH-suppressive activity is retained only in an aggregated form.