In this report we demonstrate that although passive feeding of specific Ag to mice as neonates or adults can induce oral tolerance in both the cellular and Immoral arms of the immune response, quantitative and, in particular, qualitative aspects of the tolerance process are determined by the nature of the inflammatory costimuli provided at the time of secondary Ag challenge. Moreover, this dependency upon nonspecific costimulation is more profound in Ag-fed neonates than in their adult counterparts. Thus, administration of Ag in the Th1-selective adjuvant CFA to prefed animals resulted in significant inhibition of IgG2a, IL-2, and IFN-gamma responses, whereas IL-5 responses were increased. In contrast, rechallenge with Ag in the Th2-selective adjuvant aluminum hydroxide resulted in significant inhibition of IgG1, IgE, IL-2, and IL-5 responses, whereas IFN-gamma responses were increased. Additionally, although soluble Ag challenge of prefed adults revealed marginal tolerogenic effects, the same challenge protocol in animals prefed as neonates elicited enhanced Th2-dependent IgG1 production. These results suggest that inflammatory stimulation at the time of Ag challenge is obligatory to trigger oral tolerance mechanisms, particularly in animals fed as neonates and also that the type of adjuvant used at the time of challenge selects for the type of Th cell population to be inhibited.