After transplantation of primarily vascularized xenografts (Xgs), T-independent mechanisms may lead to Xg rejection before T-cell activation even takes place. The possibility of achieving T-independent xenotolerance was evaluated in nude rats that normally reject hamster cardiac Xgs within 4 days by non-T cell-mediated mechanisms. After donor antigen infusion, temporary NK-cell depletion and a 4-week administration of Leflunomide, hamster heart grafts survived even after withdrawal of immunosuppression. Tolerant rats accepted second hamster hearts, but promptly rejected mouse heart Xgs. In vivo immunization and in vitro cytotoxicity assays indicated that this species-specific tolerance was based on B-lymphocyte and NK-cell tolerance respectively.