Twenty patients with well-functioning kidney grafts from one-haplotype-mismatched related donors, were studied 1-10 years after transplantation (A). Another group of six patients were studied at various times after transplantation (B). The presence of donor-specific transplantation tolerance, using mixed lymphocyte culture (MLC) and cell-mediated lympholysis (CML) tests was investigated, as well as the possible existence of cells with suppressive activity. All recipients were transfused prior to transplantation and treated with conventional immunosuppression. The patients in group A showed MLC reactivity against donor and third-party cells, indicating a allogeneic response capacity. The CML activity against the donor was low, however, and remained low also following removal of adherent cells. The CML activity toward third-party cells was within the normal range of unmatched individuals. In group B, two of six recipients and high postoperative CML activity against the donor. Both recipients showed clinical signs of rejection. In the remaining four recipients, the antidonor CML reactivity one week after transplantation was lower than the preoperative level. The decrease was even more pronounced at 12 months, although the reactivity against third-party cells was unaltered. The CML reactivity from unrelated fourth-party individuals toward donors was suppressed when cells from recipients with long-term functioning kidneys were added to the cell cultures. The results suggest the presence of a donor-specific cellular suppressor mechanism underlying the donor-specific CML unresponsiveness in recipients with long-term-functioning kidney allografts.