Granular lymphocytes (GLs) in patients with GL-proliferative disorders (GLPDs) are known to express the interleukin-2 receptor (IL-2R) beta chain (p70–75) constitutively and to proliferate in response to stimulation with IL-2 via the beta chain. In this report, we found that the anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody (MoAb) OKT3 could induce the proliferation of GLs from patients with T-cell lineage GLPDs (T-cell receptor-alpha beta+/CD3+16+), but not that of natural killer (NK) cell lineage GLs (T-cell receptor-alpha beta-/CD3–16+). In contrast, the anti-CD16 MoAb 3G8 that reacts with NK-lineage GLs could induce the proliferation of these GLs but not that of GLs with a T-cell phenotype. Furthermore, the anti-CD16 MoAbs CLB FcR gran1 (VD2) and OK-NK, which react with both T- and NK-lineage GLs, induced the proliferation of GLs with both T- and and NK-cell phenotypes. The proliferative response induced via the CD3 or IgG Fc receptor III (Fc gamma RIII: CD16) pathway was shown to be associated with the IL-2-dependent autocrine pathway by various findings, including the induction of endogenous IL-2 production, the coexpression of the IL-2R alpha chain (p55) and the IL- 2R beta chain, and the inhibition of GL proliferation by anti-IL-2 or anti-IL-2R MoAb. These results suggest that GL proliferation is mediated at least partly through the IL-2-dependent autocrine pathway, and that the TCR/CD3 complex in T-cell phenotype GLs and the Fc gamma RIII in both T- and NK-cell phenotype GLs play a role in their activation in GLPDs.