Mouse macrophages become activated to kill tumor cells by traversing a series of steps (1-3). The first of these does not cause the expression of cytolytic activity; instead, it primes macrophages to respond to a second signal(s) that then triggers the onset of killing (4-7). The mediator that is responsible for priming is contained, along with other lymphokines, in the culture supernatants of concanavalin A-stimulated spleen cells (5-7) cloned T lymphocytes (8), or some T cell hybridomas (9). Close association has been noted between macrophage priming activity and antiviral activity that is attributable to gamma interferon (10-12). However, unequivocal evidence that the two activities are products of the same molecule has not been available. We now how conclusively by using mouse gamma interferon (MulFN-gamma)3 produced by recombinant DNA technology that, in addition to antiviral activity, this lymphokine has the capacity to induce the priming step in the process of macrophage activation for tumor cell killing.