The kinetics of TSH binding and the effects of TSH and thyroid-stimulating antibody (TSAb) on cAMP accumulation have been measured in TSH receptor-expressing CHO cells (CHO-TSHR cells). The parallel kinetics of TSH binding to its receptor and of cell cAMP concentration after the addition and withdrawal of TSH show that in the case of this receptor, signal generation and concentration are at all times proportional to occupancy. In physiological ionic medium, TSAb, but not TSH, action is slowed and in some cases almost nonexistent. The kinetics of cAMP disappearance after washout of TSAb is also slower. cAMP accumulation is faster for Fabs than for the TSAb from which they derive. Analysis of the data suggest that 1) serum TSAb are oligoclonal antibodies sets, at low concentrations, with a high affinity for the TSH receptor; 2) ionic interactions are involved in the action of TSAb on the TSH receptor; and 3) TSAb activation of the TSH receptor is at least a two-step process. Among others, a possible explanation is that the full activation of the receptor requires the binding of two or more different antibody molecules on different sites of the same TSH receptor. This analysis provides a benchmark for studies of experimentally induced monoclonal antibodies activating the TSH receptor.