The monoclonal antibodies (MoAb) T101, G3.7, 35.1, and TA-1 were conjugated to intact ricin using a thioether linkage. These MoAb detect, respectively, the CD5[gp67], CD7[p41], CD2[p50], and [gp95, 170] determinants that are found in the vast majority of cases of T cell acute lymphocytic leukemia (T-ALL). The resulting immunotoxins (ITs) and an equimolar mixture of these ITs were evaluated as potential purgative reagents for autologous transplantation in T-ALL. Leukemic cell lines were used to compare the kinetics of protein synthesis inactivation mediated by each IT. The cells were treated with IT in the presence of lactose in order to block the native binding of ricin. The observed rates of protein synthesis inactivation correlated with target antigen expression detected by fluorescence-activated cell sorter analysis. Of the four ITs, T101-ricin (T101-R) exhibited the fastest rate of inactivation, followed in order by G3.7-ricin, TA-1-ricin, and 35.1-ricin. At concentrations greater than 300 ng/mL, a cocktail containing an equimolar amount of all four ITs (referred to as the four- IT cocktail) exhibited kinetics that were as fast or faster than those of T101-R. The long-term cytotoxic effects of individual ITs and the four-IT cocktail were evaluated using a sensitive clonogenic assay. Each IT was specifically cytotoxic and inhibited 1 to 4 logs of clonogenic leukemic cells at doses (300 to 600 ng/mL) that can be used clinically. The four-IT cocktail was highly cytotoxic; a concentration of 300 ng/mL inhibited greater than 4 logs of leukemic cells while sparing the majority of committed (CFU-GM, CFU-E) and pluripotent (CFU- GEMM) hematopoietic stem cells. The determination of both short-term kinetics of protein synthesis inactivation and longer-term inhibition of clonogenic growth allowed new insight into cell killing by IT. Our results suggest that ITs continue to act on clonogenic target cells for a period of three to five days. Interestingly, the four-IT cocktail was not as potent against clonogenic leukemic cells as T101-R alone, although it exhibited kinetics of protein synthesis inhibition that were as fast as those of T101-R alone. This finding suggests that internalized ITs may differ in the length of time they remain active within the cell. Our results also demonstrate the importance of using several different assays to evaluate IT reagents.