In the present study, we have investigated the capacity of follicular dendritic cells (FDC) to trap immune complexes (IC) in the splenic white pulp of severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice and the influence of lymphocyte transfer on FDC function. FDC are absent in the splenic white pulp of naive SCID mice as revealed by in vitro IC trapping assay. One week after transfer of syngeneic lymphocytes, functional FDC with complement receptors appeared in the primary follicles coincident with B cell segregation, and IC were trapped on those FDC in a complement-dependent manner. Next, we immunized the reconstituted SCID mouse to see whether another type of FDC could be induced in the secondary follicle. Antigenic stimulation induced FDC with an additional capacity to capture IC via FcR gamma II. As seen in immunocompetent mice, this type of FDC was located only in the light zone of the secondary follicle. The newly generated FDC did not carry H-2 antigen of transferred lymphocytes from F1 mice. In SCID mice, in which normally no functional FDC are detectable, the microenvironments of the splenic white pulp have a capacity to develop and differentiate normally after transfer of lymphocytes. Apparently, the generation of functional IC-trapping FDC causes the induction of complement receptor(s) and Fc receptor on meshwork cells, which requires the presence of the lymphocytes.