In this study it is shown that both membrane-bound and soluble forms of signaling lymphocytic activation molecule (SLAM) induce proliferation and Ig synthesis by activated human B cells. Activated B cells express the membrane-bound form of SLAM (mSLAM), the soluble (s) and the cytoplasmic (c) isoforms of SLAM, and the expression levels of mSLAM on B cells are rapidly upregulated after activation in vitro. Importantly, recombinant sSLAM and L cells transfected with mSLAM efficiently enhance B cell proliferation induced by anti-mu mAbs, anti-CD40 mAbs or Staphylococcus aureus Cowan I (SAC) in the presence or absence of IL-2, IL-4, IL-10, IL-12, or IL-15. sSLAM strongly enhances proliferation of both freshly isolated B cells and B cells derived from long-term in vitro cultures, indicating that SLAM acts not only during the initial phase of B cell activation but also during the expansion of preactivated B cells. In addition, sSLAM enhances production of IgM, IgG, and IgA by B cells activated by anti-CD40 mAbs. SLAM has recently been shown to be a high affinity self-ligand, and the present data suggest that signaling through homophilic SLAM-SLAM binding during B-B and B-T cell interactions enhances the expansion and differentiation of activated B cells.