A major goal of the transplant field is to selectively tolerize only those donor T cells recognizing host alloantigen and mediating graft-vs-host disease (GVHD). Recently, we described an ex vivo approach in which the blockade of the CD40 ligand (CD40L): CD40 costimulatory pathway in bulk MLR cultures induces donor CD4+ T cells to become specifically tolerant to MHC class II-disparate alloantigenic-bearing stimulators, resulting in a profound reduction in GVHD generation in vivo. In studies presented in this work, we investigated the ex vivo requirements for tolerance induction. We found that CD4+ T cells become profoundly more hyporesponsive to alloantigen restimulation with prolonged culture duration such that 7 to 10 but not 4 days is needed to achieve maximum alloantigen hyporesponsiveness as assessed in secondary MLR cultures and GVHD generation. By day 7, both primed and tolerized cells had substantially increased blastogenesis and CD25 expression. Primed but not tolerized cells substantially down-regulated L- selectin expression, indicating that the tolerized cells do not become fully Ag experienced. Both Th1 and Th2 cytokine production is severely impaired by CD40L:CD40 blockade. Analysis of culture supernatants and results from IL-4 and IL-10 knockout mice indicated that GVHD prevention was not mediated by a skewing toward a Th2 phenotype. The addition of IL-4 to the cultures as a survival factor precluded the induction of to tolerance in the anti-CD40L- cultured cells. These data provide further impetus for the ex vivo use of anti-CD40L mAb to block GVHD generation.