Immune responses by mice to heterologous insulins are controlled by H-2-linked Ir genes. In studies to determine the mechanism(s) of nonresponsiveness, we found that although pork insulin fails to stimulate antibody or proliferative responses in H-2(b) mice, it does stimulate enhanced responses to subsequent challenge with an immunogeneic species of insulin, such as beef insulin. Experiments described in this communication analyze the cell type primed in H-2(b) mice by pork insulin using an adoptive transfer protocol. The results demonstrate that pork insulin primes T cells that can express helper activity when recipient mice are challenged with beef but not pork insulin. This helper T cell activity is insulin specific in both elicitation and effect but is dependent upon stimulation by beef insulin for expression. Our interpretation of these results is that 2 antigen-specific T cell subpopulations are required for the generation of insulin-specific antibody responses and that the Ir gene defect in this case is expressed as a failure of specific interaction of these 2 T cell populations.