This report presents a new approach that by-passes booster immunizations with tetanus toxoid (TT) before in vitro studies of antibody (Ab) production. The methodology for optimal TT-induced synthesis of specific IgG anti-tetanus toxoid Ab (IgG anti-TT) by peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from randomly selected TT immune individuals without recent booster immunizations is described. PBMC from most normal immune subjects could be repeatedly induced to produce in vitro IgG anti-TT; PBMC from subjects with high TT titers are not required for this new approach. This approach uses high cell concentrations in multiple replicate microcultures and TT washout to obtain optimal IgG anti-TT synthesis. Washed cultures produced more Ab than nonwashed cultures (p less than or equal to 0.005). The readdition of TT (2.5 to 250 ng/ml) to the culture media after washout of TT on day 4 suppressed specific Ab formation, whereas diphtheria toxoid added at comparable doses did not inhibit specific Ab formation. Suppression of antibody synthesis mediated by T cells could be induced by TT per se, and was not due to binding of synthesized Ab to TT in the latter 8 days of culture. In addition, suppression could not be induced in the first 4 days of culture by IgG anti-TT, IgG, or IgM. This approach permits the analysis of antigen-specific regulatory circuits in the steady and activated immune states, and the evaluation of in vivo and in vitro effects of biologic response modifiers on specific Ab production.