Natural killer cytotoxic factor (NKCF) is produced as a result of the interaction of murine, rat, or human natural killer (NK) cells with NK-susceptible targets. This factor has been linked to the target cell lysis mediated by the NK effector cell. In the present results, culture supernatants from rat large granular lymphocyte (LGL) tumors exhibited NKCF activity which lysed the susceptible targets, MBL-2 and YAC-1. NKCF production from these rat tumor lines was spontaneous and was not significantly increased by co-incubation of the LGL tumors with target cells, target cell membranes, or by preincubation of the LGL tumor cells with interferon or interleukin 2. In addition to NKCF activity, the supernatants lysed L929, indicating the presence of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) in these preparations. The presence of this latter cytokine was verified using specific antibodies to recombinant murine TNF which neutralized the L929 activity while not affecting the NKCF activity against MBL-2 or YAC-1. Mouse monoclonal antibodies (mAb) A0287, A0462, and A0316) which significantly inhibit the NKCF cytolytic activity of these LGL-derived supernatants were also produced. These antibodies were shown to cross-react with human NKCF in a manner similar to that seen in the rat. Interestingly these same mAb demonstrated no inhibition of L929 cytotoxicity from either LGL-derived supernatants or by recombinant murine or human TNF. To examine further the specificity of these antibodies, they were chemically linked to Sepharose 4B and found to remove a significant proportion of the NKCF cytolytic activity from LGL supernatants, while not affecting the TNF reactivities in these preparations. In addition, these antibodies demonstrated significant inhibition of cell-mediated cytotoxicity by rat LGL against YAC-1 target cells. Biochemical analysis of labeled NKCF-containing supernatants indicated the major protein recognized by these anti-NKCF mAb to be approximately 12,000 m.w. The use of these mAb against NKCF should be very useful in further purification and biochemical characterization of NKCF and in studying its role in a variety of cell-mediated cytotoxicity assays.