We have recently shown that tolerogenic administration of an artificial peptide (pConsensus) that is based on sequences within the V(H) regions of several murine anti-dsDNA Ig delays appearance of autoantibodies in female (New Zealand Black (NZB) x New Zealand White (NZW))F(1) (NZB/W F(1)) mice and significantly prolongs their survival. The aim of this study was to characterize the T cell population(s) involved in pConsensus-induced down-regulation of autoimmune responses in tolerized NZB/W F(1) mice. Using MHC class II dimers loaded with tolerogenic peptide, we found that pCons favored expansion of peptide-reactive CD4(+)CD25(+) regulatory T cells (T(R)) that inhibited in vitro production of anti-dsDNA Ab-forming cells. Suppression by T(R) was abrogated by the presence in culture of Ab to glucocorticoid-induced TNFR family member 18 or to TGFbeta latency-associated protein. These findings suggest possible relevance of Ag specificity in the mechanism of T(R)-mediated immune tolerance to Ig-derived peptides in NZB/W F(1) mice.