Spleen cells obtained from C57BL/6 (B6) mice with an experimental autoimmune hepatitis were transferred to normal C57BL/6 recipient mice. Most prominent liver damages occurred in the recipient mice injected with sensitized nylon wool column-adherent spleen cells from the donor mice. Production of such liver damage was blocked by treatment of the sensitized adherent spleen cells with anti-Thy 1,2 monoclonal antibody and complement before injection. Based on these in vivo results, a microcytotoxicity assay was performed using isolated C57BL/6 hepatocytes as target cells and sensitized spleen cells obtained from hepatitis donor mice as effector cells. The fraction of sensitized nylon wool-adherent spleen cells demonstrated a high cytotoxic activity against isolated syngeneic hepatocytes, although the other fractions and spleen cells of control animals showed no such effect. The cytotoxic activity of sensitized-adherent spleen cells against target hepatocytes was significantly reduced after treatment with anti-Thy 1,2 antibody and complement, but it increased after depletion of B cells and Fc receptor-bearing T-cells. Although these sensitized nylon wool-adherent spleen cells showed high cytotoxic activities against syngeneic hepatocytes, their cytotoxicity against allogeneic hepatocytes was lower. They exerted no cytotoxic activity against syngeneic renal glomerular cells and EL-4 thymoma cells. These results suggest that sensitized T-cells in the nylon wool column-adherent fraction play the role of cytotoxic killer cells against target liver cells in vitro.