To elucidate the Th cell activation mechanism through the TCR/CD3 complex, we examined the reactivity of T cell clones to soluble monovalent and divalent anti-CD3 without accessory cells or costimulatory factor. All T cell clones tested produced IL-2 in response to monovalent anti-CD3, although reactivity to divalent anti-CD3 was variable depending upon clones. IL-2 production of T cell clones induced by monovalent anti-CD3 was suppressed by cross-linking of the antibody with anti-hamster IgG. IL-2 mRNA expression and the increment of intracellular Ca2+ concentration were consistent with the IL-2 production. When T cell clones were stimulated with monovalent anti-CD3, they increased in size, although divalent anti-CD3 stimulation did not affect their size irrespective of their IL-2 production. These results indicate that monovalent anti-CD3 is more efficient than divalent anti-CD3 in induction of IL-2 production and that the cross-linkage of the TCR/CD3 complex is not necessarily required for the T cell clone activation.