In the presence of antigen presenting cells, a murine T helper (Th) cell specific for murine hemoglobin (Hb) responded to its immunogenic peptide by both cytokine (interleukin-4) secretion and proliferation. An altered Hb peptide with a single amino acid substitution induced only cytokine secretion and did not induce proliferation. Interleukin-1 costimulated and restored the Th proliferative response to normal levels. The altered peptide also supported cognate T cell-B cell interactions indicative of T cell helper function. Thus, this result suggests that the T cell receptor has the capacity of differential signaling.