Covalent attachment of activated products of the third component of complement to antigen enhances its immunogenicity, but the mechanism is not clear. This effect is mediated by specific receptors, mCR1 (CD35) and mCR2 (CD21), expressed primarily on B cells and follicular dendritic cells in mice. To dissect the role of mCR1 and mCR2 in the humoral response, we have disrupted the Cr2 locus to generate mice deficient in both receptors. The deficient mice (Cr2-/-) were found to have a reduction in the CD5+ population of peritoneal B-1 cells, although their serum IgM levels were within the range of normal mice. Moreover, Cr2-/- mice had a severe defect in their humoral response to T-dependent antigens that was characterized by a reduction in serum antibody titers and in the number and size of germinal centers within splenic follicles. Reconstitution of the deficient mice with bone marrow from MHC-matched Cr2+/+ donors corrected the defect, demonstrating that the defect was due to B cells themselves. These results indicate an obligatory role of B cell complement receptors in responses of the B cells to protein antigens.