Interleukin-2-dependent pathways of lymphocyte activation were investigated in canine peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) following stimulation with T-cell mitogens including phytohemagglutinin, phorbol ester (TPA), calcium ionophore (ionomycin), and human recombinant interleukin-2 (hrIL-2). The ability of the stimulated cells to produce interleukin-2 (IL-2) was determined using murine indicator cell lines. IL-2 receptor expression by mitogen-stimulated canine PBL was confirmed by the binding of hrlL-2 with high affinity, and with characteristics comparable to those of the human and murine IL-2 receptor. Examination of serum and PBL from two dogs that were treated with hrlL-2 and human recombinant tumor necrosis factor for systemic mast cell tumors showed that in one dog, IL-2 could be measured in the serum. Concurrently, the in vitro mitogenic response of this dog's PBL to hrlL-2 occurred earlier, possibly reflecting an increase in the relative number of IL-2-responsive cells within the PBL population.