Monoclonal antibodies OKT3 (all T cells), OKT4 (T-helper/inducer), and OKT8 (T-suppressor/cytotoxic) were used to determine surface phenotypes of bronchoalveolar lavage and peripheral blood lymphocytes in patients with chronic hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Similar studies were done in asymptomatic pigeon breeders, patients with sarcoidosis, and nonsmoking controls. Increased numbers of lavage T cells were found in patients with hypersensitivity pneumonitis and sarcoidosis and in asymptomatic pigeon breeders. The predominant T-cell subset in patients with hypersensitivity pneumonitis and in asymptomatic pigeon breeders was T8+; in contrast, the predominant subset in those with sarcoidosis was T4+. Peripheral blood T-cell subsets were normal in all groups. Thus, most lung T lymphocytes in chronic hypersensitivity pneumonitis belong to the T8+ subset; the local cellular immune response in hypersensitivity pneumonitis and sarcoidosis are different; and the pattern of alveolitis, as determined by bronchoalveolar lavage, is not the sole determinant of lung impairment after exposure to hypersensitivity pneumonitis antigens.