Cultures of isolated mouse splenic B lymphocytes activated by the divalent F(ab')2 fragment of purified rabbit anti-mouse Fab or class-specific anti-mouse IgM antibodies can be driven on to high rate Ig secretion by the addition of the supernatant fluid of a 24-h culture of concanavalin A-activated spleen cells (SN). The polyclonal antibody response to anti-Ig pus SN is comparable in magnitude with the lipopolysaccharide response as measured in a reverse plaque assay. The addition of SN can be delayed for 24 h after addition of anti-Ig without changing the kinetics of the response. Addition at 48 h delays the response by 24 h. The response to F(ab')2 anti-Fab plus SN is sensitive to Fc-dependent inhibition because intact anti-Fab antibodies inhibit strongly at relatively low concentrations. The monovalent Fab' fragment fails to induce Ig secretion, indicating that cross-linkage of surface immunoglobulin is required. Although the production of active SN is T cell dependent, the response to anti-Ig plus SN is T independent. These findings are interpreted as a polyclonal model of a thymus-dependent antibody response. X

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