The ability of B cells to respond to TNP-Ficoll has been shown to correlate with their ability to respond to T cell-replacing factor (TRF). The present study analyzed the relationship of TNP-Ficoll-responsive B cells to a TRF-responsive B cell subpopulation. The B cells from normal, unprimed mice responded to TNP-Ficoll in the presence of accessory cells. Such responses were notably augmented by the addition of TRF derived from a monoclonal T cell hybridoma, B151K12(B151-TRF). Interestingly, B cells of mutant X-linked immunodeficient DBA/2Ha which failed to respond to B151-TRF gave anti-TNP PFC responses to TNP-Ficoll comparable to those of normal mice, depending on the presence of accessory cells. However, under this condition, the addition of B151-TRF did not augment the TNP-Ficoll responses. One explanation of the augmentation of TNP-Ficoll response by TRF for the B cells from nondefective mice was that two distinct B cell subpopulations exist which differ in their respective activation requirement for TRF and accessory cells. To examine this possibility, syngeneic accessory cells were pulsed with TNP-Ficoll and were assayed for their ability to activate normal B cells in the presence or absence of B151-TRF. The results revealed that TNP-Ficoll-pulsed accessory cells were able to induce primary anti-TNP PFC responses in normal B cells to the same magnitude as soluble TNP-Ficoll. However, these B cell responses induced by the TNP-Ficoll-pulsed accessory cells were not augmented by the addition of B151-TRF to the culture. These results support the notion that two distinct TNP-Ficoll-responsive B cell subpopulations exist; one requires accessory cell-B cell interaction to be activated by TNP-Ficoll but fails to respond to TRF, and the other can be activated by TRF in a totally accessory cell-independent manner.