A mAb, 10D1, was obtained by fusing spleen cells from BALB/c mice immunized with a CD3/TCR- human T cell line, P12/ichikawa, to mouse myeloma cells, P3X63-Ag8-653. 10D1 mAb is specific for T cells in that it reacted with all the T cell lines tested, but not with B or myeloid cell lines. A small fraction of normal peripheral blood T cells, preferentially CD4+, was also reactive with 10D1 mAb. Biochemical studies revealed that 10D1 mAb recognizes a disulfide-linked homodimeric molecule composed of 90-kDa polypeptide. 10D1 mAb induced a substantial proliferation of peripheral blood T cells when cross-linked with goat anti-mouse Ig antibody. The elimination of CD4+ cells totally abrogated the proliferative response induced by 10D1 mAb, whereas the elimination of CD8+ cells rather enhanced it. The proliferative response of peripheral blood T cells induced by 10D1 mAb was almost completely inhibited after modulation of the CD3/TCR complex with anti-CD3 mAb. In addition, a prompt increase in intracellular [Ca2+] was observed in a CD3+ T cell line, Jurkat but not in its surface CD3- mutant when 10D1 mAb was added. These results indicate that the 10D1 molecule is involved in a novel pathway of human CD4+ T cell activation, which is associated with the CD3/TCR-mediated pathway.