A cDNA library from LPS-treated murine peritoneal macrophages has been screened by differential hybridization with radiolabeled cDNA from untreated and LPS-treated macrophages. Six clones hybridizing with mRNA sequences present in LPS-treated cells but not in controls were selected for further characterization. When the recombinant bacteriophage DNA from each clone was used as a probe in Northern analysis of total RNA from LPS-treated macrophages, inducible mRNA ranging from 1.45 to 6.4 kb were seen. In five of six cases, the mRNA expression was undetectable in untreated macrophage cultures. All but one clone identified mRNA that were inducible even in the presence of cycloheximide, indicating the independence of such gene expression from protein synthesis; none of the genes were superinduced by this treatment. The time course of expression differed among the individual genes. Four were induced transiently, whereas two showed stable increasing accumulation through an 8-h period after stimulation. In addition, four of the genes were seen within 30 min of stimulation, whereas two were seen only after 2 to 4 h. Two genes were induced only by treatment with LPS, whereas four were also induced in response to other agents, including IFN-gamma, macrophage CSF, and PMA. The insert sequences from these recombinant clones did not hybridize with a set of cDNA encoding other inducible gene products, including TNF, IL-1, ornithine decarboxylase, c-myc, c-fos, JE, or KC. Thus, these six cDNA appear to encode inducible macrophage genes that are distinct from one another as well as from a selection of previously described early genes. Although their functional identity remains indeterminate, they may encode previously described early proteins induced in macrophages treated with LPS.