1. The California hagfish, Eptatretus stoutii, seems to be completely lacking in adaptive immunity: it forms no detectable circulating antibody despite intensive stimulation with a range of antigens; it does not show reactivity to old tuberculin following sensitization with BCG; and gives no evidence of homograft immunity.
2. Studies on the sea lamprey, Petromyzon marinus, have been limited to the response to bacteriophage T2 and hemocyanin in small groups of spawning animals. They suggest that the lamprey may have a low degree of immunologic reactivity.
3. One holostean, the bowfin (Amia calva) and the guitarfish (Rhinobatos productus), an elasmobranch, showed a low level of primary response to phage and hemocyanin. The response is slow and antibody levels low. Both the bowfin and the guitarfish showed a vigorous secondary response to phage, but neither showed much enhancement of reactivity to hemocyanin in the secondary response. The bowfin formed precipitating antibody to hemocyanin, but the guitarfish did not. Both hemagglutinating and precipitating antibody to hemocyanin were also observed in the primary response of the black bass.
4. The bowfin was successfully sensitized to Ascaris antigen, and lesions of the delayed type developed after challenge at varying intervals following sensitization.
5. The horned shark (Heterodontus franciscii) regularly cleared hemocyanin from the circulation after both primary and secondary antigenic stimulation, and regularly formed hemagglutinating antibody, but not precipitating antibody, after both primary and secondary stimulation with this antigen. These animals regularly cleared bacteriophage from the circulation after both the primary and secondary stimulation with bacteriophage T2. Significant but small amounts of antibody were produced in a few animals in the primary response, and larger amounts in the responding animals after secondary antigenic stimulation.
6. Studies by starch gel and immunoelectrophoresis show that the hagfish has no bands with mobilities of mammalian gamma globulins; that the lamprey has a single, relatively faint band of this type; and that multiple gamma bands are characteristic of the holostean, elasmobranchs, and teleosts studied. By this method of study, the bowfin appeared to have substantial amounts of gamma2 globulin.
7. We conclude that adaptive immunity and its cellular and humoral correlates developed in the lowest vertebrates, and that a rising level of immunologic reactivity and an increasingly differentiated and complex immunologic mechanism are observed going up the phylogenetic scale from the hagfish, to the lamprey, to the elasmobranchs, to the holosteans, and finally the teleosts.