The effects exerted on the in vitro development of purified protein derivative (PPD)-specific or Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus group I (Der p I)-specific T cell lines (TCL) and T cell clones (TCC) by IL-4 or IFN-gamma addition or neutralization in human PBMC cultures were examined. PBMC from two normal individuals, which were stimulated with PPD and then cultured in IL-2 alone, developed into PPD-specific TCL and TCC able to produce IFN-gamma and IL-2 but not IL-4 and IL-5 (Th1-like). IFN-gamma or anti-IL-4 antibody addition in bulk cultures before cloning did not influence the PPD-specific TCL profile of cytokine production. In contrast, the addition of IL-4 resulted in the development of PPD-specific TCL and TCC able to produce not only IFN-gamma and IL-2 but also IL-4 and IL-5. PBMC from one atopic Der p I-sensitive patient, which were stimulated with Der p I and then cultured in IL-2 alone, developed into Der p I-specific TCL and TCC able to produce IL-5 and large amounts of IL-4 but no IFN-gamma (Th2-like). The addition in bulk cultures, before cloning, of either IFN-gamma or anti-IL-4 antibody markedly inhibited the development of Der p I-specific T cells into IL-4- and IL-5-producing TCL. Accordingly, the development into Der p I-specific Th2-like TCC was significantly reduced by the addition of IFN-gamma in bulk culture and was virtually suppressed by the presence of both IFN-gamma and anti-IL-4 antibody. These data suggest that the presence or the absence of IL-4 and IFN-gamma in bulk cultures of PBMC before cloning may have strong regulatory effects on the in vitro development of human CD4+ T cells into Th1 or Th2 clones.