We describe selective effects of azathioprine (Az) on T-cell subpopulations regulating the primary in vitro antibody response of mouse spleen cells to the T-independent antigen TNP-polyacrylamide. This response is susceptible to the effect of two kinds of non-specific suppressor cells: (i) spontaneously-induced suppressor, generated after 4-5 days culture in the presence of 2 micrograms/ml of concanavalin A (Con A). Indeed, both these precultured cells lead to a cell dose-dependent suppression of the anti-TNP response when transferred at the initiation of antigen-stimulated fresh cell cultures. T cells are the effectors of both these suppressions and seem to directly suppress the B-cell response. We tested the in vitro effect of Az (10(-1) micrograms/ml) on the generation of these two sets of suppressors. Whereas that of Con-A-induced suppressors proves to be resistant, that of spontaneously-induced T suppressors is totally prevented by the addition of Az in the preculture medium. Instead, Az treatment allows the manifestation of a spontaneously-induced helper T cell, simultaneously generated, which is able to increase a T-independent antibody response and quite resistant to the in vitro effect of Az. Thus, this study demonstrates that different subpopulations of T lymphocytes regulating the B-cell antibody response exhibit a selectivity to Az, implying different cell proliferation requirements and/or different cellular origin.