Interruption of the afferent lymphatic vessels of rat popliteal lymph nodes led to the disappearance of the monoclonal antibody ED3-reactive subcapsular sinus macrophages within 3 weeks, but had no effect on the ED1+ macrophages in the paracortical area. This disconnection of the afferent lymph flow to the popliteal lymph node also reduced the capacity of high endothelial venules (HEV) to bind lymphocytes and led to a flattening of the HEV. Activating factors or cells in the incoming lymph might be responsible for the maintenance and function of several different cell populations and we therefore wished to determine if the effects of interruption could be restored by injection of recombinant rat interferon-gamma (rIFN-gamma). Injection of rIFN-gamma directly into operated lymph nodes could mediate an apparent increase of ED1+ cells within 24 h but rIFN-gamma could not restore the macrophage subpopulation in the subcapsular sinus, as recognized by monoclonal antibody ED3. Restoration of the decreased binding capacity of HEV could not be observed with the doses and time points tested, suggesting that HEV are a distinct type of endothelium.