Previous studies of mating preference signified that mice can sense one another's major histocompatibility complex (MHC) types, probably by olfaction. This conclusion has now been substantiated by the use of a Y-maze whose two arms were differentially scented with currents of air conducted through boxes occupied by B6 (H-2b) males and by B6-H-2k congenic males. Four B6 mice, two males and two females, were successfully trained, by water deprivation and reward, to enter the arm scented by B6 or B6-H-2k males. One of the males and one of the females were trained to select the B6-scented arm; the other male and female were trained to select the B6-H-2k-scented arm. Untrained mice showed no MHC discrimination in the maze. The performance of the trained mice in distinguishing between MHC congenic homozygous F2 segregants derived from a cross of B6-H-2k with B6 was as good as their performance in distinguishing the respective inbred strains, thus essentially eliminating alternative and significant additional explanations of MHC-associated sensory discrimination. The data further indicate that chemosensory discrimination of MHC types can be entirely dissociated from sex differences and from the circumstances of mating.

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