The lymphocyte cell surface molecule CD5 (T1, Leu 1, Tp67 in the human; Ly 1 in the mouse) is expressed on the majority of circulating T lymphocytes and a small population of B cells. We have analyzed CD5 expression on repopulating T cells in the peripheral blood of patients after allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT). The frequency of CD3+ T cells that lack expression of CD5 is dramatically increased after BMT compared with the normal population. The percent of total CD3+ CD5- cells correlated with the presence of graft versus host disease and with time following transplant, but did not correlate with age, diagnosis, preparative regimen, T-cell depletion of the marrow, major histocompatibility complex compatibility, or the presence or absence of interstitial pneumonitis. Furthermore, the total number and percent of CD8+ CD5- cells was increased following BMT. CD3+ cells from BMT patients were sorted for the presence or absence of CD5 expression. CD3+ CD5- cells were capable of interleukin-2 production and of mediating cytolysis following lectin stimulation. We conclude that CD3+ CD5- T cells are functional and represent a significant proportion of circulating cells in patients after BMT.