Data from human clinical trials and animal experiments have suggested that T lymphocytes in donor marrow help to facilitate engraftment after allogeneic bone marrow transplantation, possibly through a suppressive effect on the immunity of the recipient. In previous studies marrows from HLA-identical donors were treated ex vivo with a mixture of eight monoclonal antibodies together with rabbit complement to achieve a 3-log depletion of T cells and CD3-negative lymphoid cells. Transplantation of this marrow was associated with a 27% actuarial risk of graft failure in leukemic recipients conditioned with cyclophosphamide (120 mg/kg) and 15.75 Gy fractionated total body irradiation. In the present study, we employed an anti-CD3 ricin A-chain-containing immunotoxin (64.1-A) together with 20 mM NH4Cl to achieve a selective 3-log depletion of CD3-positive cells. The patient entry criteria and pretransplant conditioning regimen were identical to those used in previous studies. Despite the differences in marrow treatment, the clinical outcome of the present study was similar to that obtained previously. Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) was largely prevented without the need for post-transplant immunosuppression, but two of the eight patients developed graft failure. These results indicate that CD3-negative cells have little or no ability to initiate GVHD. To the extent that graft failure in this study was not caused by stem cell damage or loss of CD3-negative cells during ex vivo processing of the marrow, it appears that the lymphoid cells required for facilitating allogeneic engraftment under these conditions are CD3-positive.