CD28 antagonists have been shown to promote long-term graft survival and induce donor-specific tolerance. In this study, the role of CD28/B7 costimulation and the relative importance of host versus donor B7 expression in allograft rejection was assessed in a murine abdominal vascularized heterotopic heart transplant model. Wild-type, CD28-deficient, or B7-1/B7-2-deficient C57BL/6 (B6) mice were grafted with allogeneic wild type or B7-1/B7-2-deficient hearts. The results demonstrate allogeneic heart grafts survive long-term in mCTLA4Ig-treated B6 and untreated B7-1/B7-2-deficient B6 recipients but not CD28KO B6 mice. B7-1/B7-2KO B6 recipients treated with anti-CD28 (PV-1) or recombinant human IL-2 rejected the heart transplants indicating that these mice are immunologically competent to reject grafts if costimulatory signals are supplied or bypassed. Finally, there was no difference in rejection between normal animals transplanted with wild-type versus B7-1/B7-2-deficient hearts. These results support a critical role for B7-expressing host antigen presenting cells in the rejection of heart allografts in mice and differences among B7KO and CD28KO animals.