Systemic tolerance can be induced by the introduction of antigen into an immune-privileged site. Here we investigated the role of complement in the induction of tolerance after intraocular injection. We found that the development of antigen-specific tolerance is dependent on a complement activation product. The ligation of the complement C3 activation product iC3b to complement receptor type 3 (the iC3b receptor) on antigen-presenting cells resulted in the sequential production of transforming growth factor-β2 and interleukin-10, which is essential for the induction of tolerance. These observations may extend to the development of both neonatal tolerance and other forms of acquired tolerance.