Transfer of peripheral lymph node lymphocytes to SCID mice leads to the long term establishment of mucosal T lymphocytes within the epithelium and lamina propria of the small and large intestines. Analysis of engrafted intraepithelial lymphocytes (IEL) showed that they had acquired a surface phenotype that in several respects is typical of IEL. In addition, the functional profile of engrafted IEL derived from lymph node T cells was similar to that of normal IEL; as the donor-derived T cells exhibited a strong cytolytic activity, a poor proliferative response to mitogenic stimuli, and a tendency to home and expand specifically in the intestine upon transfer to secondary SCID recipients. Optimal engraftment of intestinal T cells required bacterial flora, as the number of lymphocytes was greatly reduced in SCID recipients with a reduced flora. These results demonstrate that mature, thymus-derived T cells can migrate to the intestine and become functionally specialized to the intestinal milieu. The acquisition of phenotypic markers characteristic of the intestinal microenvironment by engrafted cells suggests that T cell migration of lymphocytes to the SCID intestine is not aberrant, but it may reflect processes that are ongoing in immunocompetent mice. Furthermore, these data suggest that the homing and/or expansion of typical, thymus-derived T cells in the intestine may be driven by luminal Ags such as those derived from bacterial flora.