Certain cells within the CNS, microglial cells and perivascular macrophages, develop from hemopoietic myelomonocytic lineage progenitors in the bone marrow (BM). Such BM-derived cells function as CNS APC during the development of T cell-mediated paralytic inflammation in diseases such as experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis and multiple sclerosis. We used a novel, interspecies, rat-into-mouse T cell and/or BM cell-transfer method to examine the development and function of BM-derived APC in the CNS. Activated rat T cells, specific for either myelin or nonmyelin Ag, entered the SCID mouse CNS within 3-5 days of cell transfer and caused an accelerated recruitment of BM-derived APC into the CNS. Rat APC in the mouse CNS developed from transferred rat BM within an 8-day period and were entirely sufficient for induction of CNS inflammation and paralysis mediated by myelin-specific rat T cells. The results demonstrate that T cells modulate the development of BM-derived CNS APC in an Ag-independent fashion. This previously unrecognized regulatory pathway, governing the presence of functional APC in the CNS, may be relevant to pathogenesis in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, multiple sclerosis, and/or other CNS diseases involving myelomonocytic lineage cells.