In vivo experiments were performed to determine if the cross-linking of mlg on antigen-presenting B cells could induce them to present Ag to naive T cells in a stimulatory rather than a tolerogenic fashion. Mice were injected with a foreign mAb to a B cell Ag (Fc epsilon RII or CR1), and/or a self-anti-IgD mAb. Injection of either mAb alone failed to induce an Ab response; however, simultaneous injection of the foreign anti-B cell mAb plus the self-anti-IgD mAb stimulated a large response. Inasmuch as injection of the anti-IgD mAb should not have facilitated transfer of the foreign mAb to dendritic cells, this observation suggests that cross-linking of B cell mlg can induce B cells to acquire the ability to present Ag to naive T cells in an activating manner. Furthermore, when injected with anti-IgD mAb, both foreign anti-B cell mAbs were more potent in inducing Ab responses in this system than were isotype-matched control mAbs, consistent with the hypothesis that T cells were activated by Ag-presenting B cells. Results of dose-response and cell transfer studies, however, suggested that stringent cross-linking of B cell mlg on large numbers of B cells is required for B cell Ag presentation to induce T cell activation rather than tolerance. Therefore, these observations suggest that professional APCs usually are required to activate naive T cells, and that B cell Ag presentation can only activate naive T cells under unusual circumstances.