When mouse bone marrow cells are mixed with cortisol-resistant thymocytes and stimulated in vitro with concanavalin A, the mitogenic response observed is much greater than additive, that is, it is synergistic. Between 94 and 96% of responding cells could be identified as T cells (Thy-1 positive) and of these, 79-100% derived from the cortisol-resistant thymocyte population, not from the bone marrow. Purified macrophages could not replace bone marrow; and marrow depleted of mature T or B cells worked as well as normal marrow. Thus, T and B cells and macrophages were ruled out as the synergizing cell of bone marrow. Nude spleen contained 10 times as many precursors of T cells as did nude marrow and was 10 times better at synergy with cortisol-resistant thymocytes. This implication of the pre-T cell as synergizer was supported by the finding that the synergistic activity of marrow was lost on preincubation, but maintained if the preincubation medium contained thymosin or cyclic AMP. Thus, the ability to enhance the response of relatively mature T cells to Con A is a property of pre-T cells. It is anticipated that this property will allow more detailed studies of T-cell precursor development in mice, and possibly in man.

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