OKT3 monoclonal antibody, a human T cell mitogen, induced interferon production by cultured mononuclear cells at 10(-11) M concentrations. Interferon was secreted only under conditions wherein OKT3 was mitogenic, and production was correlated with cell proliferation. Thus, like mitogenesis, interferon secretion reached a peak 3 days after OKT3 stimulation, was inhibited by a factor(s) in human serum, and required 1000 times higher concentrations of Fab and F(ab')2 fragments of OKT3 for induction. The interferon was most likely of "gamma" (immune) type, because pH 2 and 56 degrees C treatments denatured it, whereas anti-alpha or -beta interferon antibodies did not. Mononuclear cells were fractionated into subpopulations that contained OKT4+ cells (helper/inducer T cells), OKT8+ cells (cytotoxic/suppressor T cells), and OKM1+ cells (monocytes) by combining sheep red blood cell rosetting and complement-mediated lysis using monoclonal antibodies against specific cell types. Both OKT4+ and OKT8+ cells proliferated upon OKT3 stimulation with the absolute requirement of OKM1+ cells. However, OKT4+ cells plus OKM1+ cells were necessary for the secretion of interferon. Studies with selective pretreatments with mitomycin C suggested that gamma-interferon was secreted by the OKT4+ cells and that the OKM1+ population subserved an accessory function.