The response of Bcgr and Bcgs spleen cells to allogeneic Ag, mitogens, and in a system of oxidative mitogenesis using neuraminidase and galactose oxidase was investigated in two Bcg congenic systems. The Bcgr macrophages supported the MLR across H-2 barrier much better than the Bcgs macrophages. At sub-optimal or optimal doses of mitogens Bcgr mice were higher responders than their Bcgs counterparts. The superior response of Bcgr spleen cells to Con A was further investigated with the aim of identifying the population expressing this phenotype. T cells of either Bcgr or Bcgs type showed equal ability to respond to Con A in the presence of macrophages. Purified splenic macrophages from Bcgr mice contained a significantly greater percentage of Ia+-bearing macrophages compared to Bcgs mice. Splenic macrophages of the Bcgr type were more efficient than their Bcgs counterparts at restoring the Con A response of accessory cell-depleted spleen cells. Resident peritoneal macrophages as well as splenic dendritic cells from Bcgr and Bcgs mice were equally efficient at restoring this response. Glutaraldehyde-fixed Bcgr splenic macrophages were shown to be more efficient than the Bcgs cells at replenishing the response of Con A-unresponsive spleen cells when supplemented with IL-1.