The role of CD3 and CD8 Ag in CD16-mediated CTL triggering was studied in TCR-alpha beta+ and TCR-gamma delta+ granular lymphocytes (GL). In TCR-alpha beta+/CD3+4-8+16+ GL obtained from patients with GL-proliferative disorders, antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity was inhibited by anti-CD3 and anti-CD8 mAb. Anti-CD3 mAb also inhibited antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity activity of TCR-gamma delta+/CD3+4-8-16+ GL from a patient and that of TCR-gamma delta+/CD3+4-8+/-16+ T cell clones established from patients with proliferating TCR-gamma delta+ GL. In TCR-gamma delta+ T cell clones, cytotoxicity against Fc gamma R+ targets was induced by stimulation of CD16 Ag with anti-CD16 mAb, and such cytotoxicity was also inhibited by anti-CD3 mAb. These results indicate that CD3 and CD8 molecules play a regulatory role in CD16-mediated CTL triggering.