Experimental autoimmune myasthenia gravis (EAMG) is a T cell-dependent, Ab-mediated autoimmune disease induced in rats by a single immunization with acetylcholine receptor (AChR). Although polarized Th1 responses have been shown to be crucial for the development of mouse EAMG, the role of Th cell subsets in rat EAMG is not well established. In the present work we show that while the incidence and severity of EAMG are similar in Lewis (LEW) and Brown-Norway (BN) rats, strong differences are revealed in the immune response generated. Ag-specific lymph node cells from LEW rats produced higher amounts of IL-2 and IFN-gamma than BN lymph node cells, but expressed less IL-4 mRNA. IgG1 and IgG2b anti-AChR isotype predominated in BN and LEW rats, respectively, confirming the dichotomy of the immune response observed between the two strains. Furthermore, although IL-12 administration or IFN-gamma neutralization strongly influenced the Th1/Th2 balance in BN rats, it did not affect the disease outcome. These data demonstrate that a Th1-dominated immune response is not necessarily associated with disease severity in EAMG, not only in rats with disparate MHC haplotype but also in the same rat strain, and suggest that in a situation where complement-fixing Ab can be generated as a consequence of either Th1- or Th2-mediated T cell help, deviation of the immune response will not be an adequate strategy to prevent this Ab-mediated autoimmune disease.