Cell-mediated cytotoxicity (CMC) of lymphocytes obtained from chickens infected with Marek's disease (MD) virus against allogeneic MD lymphoblastoid cell lines has been reported by several research groups. Recently, we established a number of cell lines from MD tumors obtained from highly inbred chickens and characterized for major and minor histocompatibility antigens. Allogeneic versus syngeneic CMC was studied using those cell lines and lymphocytes obtained from chickens 6-8 days post infection with 5B-1, a non-oncogenic MD virus. Allogeneic cytotoxicity could be easily demonstrated, while syngeneic cytotoxicity was a rare event. However, increase of the CMC assay period from 4 to 8 h did enhance syngeneic cytotoxicity. Cold inhibition assays demonstrated that the allogeneic cytotoxicity was directed against alloantigens present on spleen lymphocytes sharing the same major histocompatibility antigens as the target cells. Cytotoxicity was not influenced by the sex of either target or effector cells or by the level of virus infectivity of the effector cells.