Bispecific antibodies (Bs-Abs) containing an anti-CD3 and an anti-TAA specificity can recruit T cells to the tumor for cancer immunotherapy. To be effective, efficient activation at the tumor site is a prerequisite. This can be achieved by triggering both the T-cell receptor and the co-stimulatory molecule CD28. We engineered two recombinant cross-interacting Bs-Abs (CriBs-Abs) by incorporating a peptide tag and its cognate single-chain variable fragment (scFv), respectively, into a pair of (tumor x CD3) and (tumor x CD28) binding Bs-Abs. A 30-fold lower concentration of the activating CriBs-Ab as compared to non interacting Bs-Ab was sufficient for strong T-cell activation in the presence of tumor cells. One thousand-fold higher concentrations of both CriBs-Abs were required for marginal T-cell activation (70-fold below maximal response) in the absence of tumor cells. An optimized stoichiometry (1 : 1000) of activating versus co-stimulating CriBs-Ab thus allowed low doses of activating CriBs-Ab to induce tumor-cell dependent T-cell activation when used in combination with high concentrations of the pre-targeted co-stimulating CriBs-Ab in vitro. This indicates a large window of operation in which only tumor cell dependent T-cell activation is induced and systemic tumor cell independent T-cell activation is avoided, while ensuring optimal activation with a low concentration of the activating CriBs-Ab, which has the highest potential to induce toxic effects in vivo.