Abstract Murine graft versus host (GVH) disease takes two forms depending on the parental/F1 strain combination employed. Acute lethal GVH disease is characterized by anemia, lymphopenia, hypogammaglobulinemia, profound anti-F1 cytotoxicity, and the loss of cytotoxic potential against third-party alloantigen. In contrast to this, chronic GVH disease is characterized by polyclonal B cell activation, auto-antibody production, no anti-F1 cytotoxicity, and retained cytotoxicity against allotargets. We now report that this marked disparity in disease expression results from a radiosensitive host mechanism which protects the F1 mouse from parental anti-F1 cytotoxicity in mice undergoing chronic GVH disease. Cellular analysis revealed that protection in chronic GVH disease is mediated by a phenotypically complex system of genetically unrestricted radiosensitive T cells of F1 origin. These cells fail to functionally emerge in mice undergoing acute lethal GVH disease.