We previously showed that the "immunologic privilege" of the anterior chamber results not from afferent blockade, but rather from induction of hapten-specific suppressor T cells that appear after anterior chamber priming with antigen. These suppressor T cells induced by anterior chamber priming differ from those induced by i.v. priming in their ability to block the efferent as well as the afferent limb of the immune response and in their lack of idiotypic surface receptors detected by rabbit anti-idiotypic antibody. We now report that intravitreal priming with haptenated syngeneic spleen cells does not result in generation of suppressor cells, but rather, can in some instances result in an enhanced systemic immunoreactivity to the priming hapten. If soluble antigenic preparations are used, however, intravitreal priming results in the generation of the suppressor T cells, which suppress subsequent DTH and CTL responses to the immunizing hapten. The suppressor cell generation after intravitreal priming is a cyclophosphamide-sensitive process. These results demonstrate that soluble products are processed differently in ocular compartments compared with cell surface coupled ligands, and further demonstrate that the generation of hapten-specific suppressor T cells is dependent, at least in part, on the form and on the specific compartment of the eye that is inoculated.