We have examined the functional property of murine CD2 as an intercellular adhesion molecule by using five anti-murine CD2 mAb which were classified into two groups according to their mutual competition in binding to cell surface CD2. Hamster fibroblasts transfected with murine CD2 cDNA exhibited increased conjugate formation with a murine mastocytoma P815 which expresses the putative murine LFA-3 mRNA detected by cross-hybridization with human LFA-3 cDNA under conditions of low stringency. This increase in conjugate formation was abrogated by both groups of anti-CD2 mAb, although some differences in the extent of inhibition were observed at lower concentrations of the mAb. We then examined the involvement of CD2 in several murine T cell responses by using these mAb to abrogate CD2-mediated cellular interactions. Anti-CD2 mAb significantly inhibited mitogenic T cell responses induced by suboptimal doses of Con A and PHA. In the allogenic MLR response and in the Ag response of two KLH/I-Ak-specific Th cell clones, the inhibitory effect of anti-CD2 mAb was also greatest under suboptimal conditions, i.e., with lesser doses of the Ag. These results indicate that the contribution of CD2 as an accessory molecule is variable, depending on the Ag dose used for stimulation, and they suggest that CD2 is involved in the Ag response of murine T cells under the physiologic conditions where only a limited amount of Ag is available. We next examined the contribution of CD2 to MHC-restricted cytotoxicity by CTL and to MHC-unrestricted cytotoxicity by NK and lymphokine-activated killer cells. Only a marginal inhibition by anti-CD2 mAb alone was observed. Anti-lymphocyte function-associated Ag (LFA)-1 mAb alone exhibited greater inhibitory effects than anti-CD2 mAb in all of the cases tested. In most cases, however, substantial levels of cytotoxicity remained, even in the presence of both anti-CD2 and anti-LFA-1 mAb. These results indicate a minor contribution of CD2, as compared with LFA-1, to cytotoxicity by murine CTL, NK cells, and lymphokine-activated killer cells, and they reveal the presence of undefined cellular interaction pathways other than those mediated by CD2 and LFA-1.