The development of cytotoxic effector cells through primary allogeneic mixed tumor-lymphocyte culture (MTLC) was found to be accompanied by the production of T cell growth factor (TCGF). Addition of supplemental TCGF to MTLC resulted in the generation of significantly greater quantities of effector cells, and these effector cells displayed augmented cytotoxic activity. The TCGF-induced effect could not be duplicated by the addition of fresh medium or a mitogenic concentration of concananvalin A. Although TCGF augmented the proliferation of antigen-nonreactive cells, antigen-reactive cells appeared to be preferentially stimulated by TCGF. Finally, it was shown that depletion of TCGF from MTLC resulted in an impairment of proliferation and differentiation of cytotoxic effector cells. These findings demonstrate that soluble factors are involved in the regulation of in vitro cell-mediated immune responses in an analogous manner to similar factors that have been shown to regulate humoral immune responses. Therefore, the forces affecting TCGF production may modulate the amplitude of a T cell-mediated cytolytic response.