Resting B cells can be cultured to induce antibody-secreting cell (ASC) differentiation in vitro. A quantitative analysis of cell behavior during such a culture allows the influences of different stimuli and gene products to be measured. The application of this analytical system revealed that the OBF-1 transcriptional coactivator, whose loss impairs antibody production in vivo, has two effects on ASC development. Although OBF-1 represses early T cell-dependent (TD) differentiation, it is also critical for the completion of the final stages of ASC development. Under these conditions, the loss of OBF-1 blocks the genetic program of ASC differentiation so that Blimp-1/prdm1 induction fails, and bcl-6, Pax5, and AID are not repressed as in control ASC. Retroviral complementation confirmed that OBF-1 was the critical entity. Surprisingly, when cells were cultured in lipopolysaccharide to mimic T cell-independent conditions, OBF-1-null B cells differentiated normally to ASC. In the OBF-1(-/-) ASC generated under either culture regimen, antibody production was normal or only modestly reduced, revealing that Ig genes are not directly dependent on OBF-1 for their expression. The differential requirement for OBF-1 in TD ASC generation was confirmed in vivo. These studies define a new regulatory role for OBF-1 in determining the cell-autonomous capacity of B cells to undergo terminal differentiation in response to different immunological signals.