Tingible body macrophages (TBM), long thought simply as scavengers of apoptotic lymphocytes, are located in the unique microenvironment of germinal centers in close proximity to antigen-retaining follicular dendritic cells (FDC). Observations that TBM endocytose FDC-iccosomal (immune-complex coated bodies) antigen suggested that TBM might present this antigen and help regulate the germinal center reaction. To test for antigen presentation, the ovalbumin (OVA)-specific TH hybridoma, 3DO-54.8, which produces IL-2 on receiving effective presentation of OVA, were used as responders to OVA-bearing TBM. Results showed that OVA-bearing TBM failed to induce IL-2 production. Furthermore, addition of TBM to IL- 2-inducing positive controls (B cells) not only failed to augment IL-2 production, but rather TBM significantly (55-90%) reduced B-cell induction of IL-2. We found that TBM were rich in prostaglandin by comparison with other nongerminal center lymph node macrophages and that addition of indomethacin to the cultures reversed the inhibitory effect of TBM. Depletion of TBM from enriched preparations, prior to addition to positive control cultures, also abrogated the inhibitory effect on IL-2 production. These data support the concept that TBM, within the unique microenvironment of germinal centers, may be specialized to downregulate the germinal center reaction.