Human B cell-activating factor (BAFF) induces mouse surface IgM+ B cells of the immature type from bone marrow and of the immature types 1 and 2 from spleen, as well as of the mature type from spleen to increased longevity in tissue culture. BAFF does so polyclonally and without inducing proliferation in any of these B cell subpopulations. BAFF induces phenotypic and functional maturation of immature to mature B cells so that all immature cells loose C1qRp (AA4.1, 493) expression and type 1 immature cells up-regulate IgD, CD21 and CD23. Immature B cells of types 1 and 2, upon pre-incubation with BAFF, change their reactiveness to Ig-specific antibodies so that they no longer enter apoptosis but now proliferate. However, BAFF does not seem to overcome negative selection of developing immature B cells in vitro.