We describe a 27-year-old white man with common variable immunodeficiency (CVID) who has two healthy histoidentical brothers and one IgA-deficient sister who shares one HLA haplotype with the patient. T cells from the patient with CVID showed an impaired response to recall antigens (tetanus toxoid, E. coli), whereas his IgA-deficient sister and his two healthy histoidentical brothers responded normally. Cross-mixing experiments using isolated monocytes and T cells from the CVID patient and one histoidentical brother revealed that the patient's monocytes were fully functional in processing and presenting antigen to resting T cells of his brother, and provided normal accessory cell function for superantigen-induced activation of his brother's resting T cells. In contrast, the patient's T cells were unable to respond to antigen presented by the brother's monocytes and failed to respond with an increase in intracellular free Ca++ to stimulation with superantigen, which is known to bind to the TCR V beta-chain outside the antigen-binding groove. However, stimulation with a combination of PMA and IM, directly activating protein kinase C and increasing intracellular free Ca++ by bypassing membrane receptors, induced normal Ca++ flux. These data indicate that the patient with CVID has a defect in TCR-mediated signalling at the level of the T cells which is not present in his histoidentical healthy brothers or in his haploidentical IgA-deficient sister.