Evidence supporting the importance of the 3-phosphoinositide signaling pathway in lymphocyte activation is rapidly accumulating. In our study, we assessed the effects of two PI 3-kinase inhibitors, wortmannin and LY294002, on T cells as a means to analyze the role of the PI 3-kinase-signaling pathway in the generation of T cell help for B cell growth and differentiation. For these studies, B cells were cocultured with CD3-activated mitomycin C-treated T cells to induce B cell responsiveness. Of interest, wortmannin or LY294002 pretreatment of the T cell population significantly inhibited T cell-dependent induction of B cell proliferation and differentiation. The failure of wortmannin-treated CD3-activated mitomycin C-treated T cells to provide help in driving the differentiation of B cells to Ig-secreting cells could not be corrected by the addition of exogenous IL-2. Further studies designed to elucidate the mechanism by which wortmannin-treated T cells failed to provide B cell help indicated that wortmannin and LY294002 significantly inhibited the induction of CD40 ligand and, to a lesser extent, intercellular adhesion molecule-1 expression. These results suggest that the PI 3-kinase-signaling pathway, or other wortmannin- and LY294002-sensitive pathways, may be important for the induction of expression of crucial interaction molecules, such as CD40 ligand, on T cells and thus indicates that D-3 phosphoinositides play a pivotal role in regulating T cell-dependent B cell activation.