Temporary B-cell tolerance to the trinitrophenyl (TNP) hapten can be produced in BDF1 mice by intraperitoneal injection of trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid (TNBS). Antigen-binding cells (ABC) specific to TNP, measured as TNP donkey erythrocyte rosettes, are found in tolerant mice as well as in immune mice. We have studied the surface immunoglobulin isotype profile of these TNP-binding lymphocytes (TNP-ABC) in four groups of animals: nonimmune, immune, tolerant, and tolerant-challenged. Immune mice received intravenous TNP sheep erythrocytes (TNP-SRC), whereas tolerant-challenged mice received TNP-SRC and TNBS on Day 0. TNP-ABC from mice immunized with TNP-SRC exhibit increased expression of surface IgG and decreased expression of surface IgD, compared to the ABC from nonimmune mice. Tolerant mice have a higher proportion of ABC with surface IgG, and a lower proportion with surface IgD, than nonimmune mice. Tolerant-challenged mice have a lower proportion of ABC with surface IgG, and a higher proportion with surface IgD, than immune mice. Thus, B-cell tolerance in this model entails an attenuation of the surface immunoglobulin isotype switch (loss of IgD and gain of IgG) on ABC seen in the normal immune response. For most TNP-ABC, tolerogen exposure prevents the switch in surface isotypes normally induced by exposure to TNP antigen; i.e., the tolerance lesion precedes the surface isotype switch. However, a minority of the TNP-ABC appear to switch surface isotypes in response to the tolerogen itself.