In vivo inoculation of specific antibody is an accepted protocol for elimination of specific cell populations. Except for anti-CD3 and anti-CD4, it is not known if the depleted cells are eliminated by signalling through the target molecule or through a more non-specific mechanism. C57BL/6 mice were inoculated with anti-natural killer (NK1.1) monoclonal antibody (mAb). Thereafter spleen cells were harvested, stained for both surface and intracellular markers, and analysed by flow cytometry. As early as 2 hr post inoculation, NK cells were signalled to become apoptotic while signalling through the NK1.1 molecule activated NK1.1+ T-cell receptor (TCR)+ (NK T) cells to increase in number, and produce interleukin-4 (IL-4). Anti NK1.1 mAb was less efficient at signalling apoptosis in NK cells when NK T-cell deficient [β2-microglobulin β2m-deficient] mice were used compared with wild type mice. Efficient apoptotic signalling was restored when β2m-deficient mice were reconstituted with NK T cells. NK-specific antibody best signals the apoptotic process in susceptible NK cells when resistant NK T cells are present, activated, and secrete IL-4.