We have demonstrated recently that rIFN-gamma inhibits the proliferation of murine bone marrow cells stimulated with rIL-3 or recombinant granulocyte-macrophage (GM)-CSF. In light of this finding, three murine CD8+ CTL clones whose supernatants had been shown previously not to contain detectable levels of CSF activity but which contained a relatively high level of IFN-gamma were reassessed for their ability to secrete IL-3 and GM-CSF. Supernatants from CTL clones activated with anti-CD3 mAb failed to stimulate the IL-3-dependent cell line FDCP1. However, these supernatants were indeed able to stimulate the proliferation of FDCP1 cells if anti-IFN-gamma mAb was present. This stimulatory activity was specifically neutralized by anti-IL-3 mAb. Supernatants from two of the three clones stimulated the proliferation of a GM-CSF-responsive HT-2 cell line, and this activity was neutralized by anti-GM-CSF antibody. The otherwise modest ability of CTL supernatants to stimulate the proliferation of fresh bone marrow cells was augmented considerably in the presence of anti-IFN-gamma mAb, and this activity was appropriately blocked by anti-IL-3 and anti-GM-CSF antibodies. mRNA for IL-3 and GM-CSF, as well as for IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha, was detected in cells that secreted those lymphokines, and the time course of appearance of each mRNA correlated with secretion of the appropriate lymphokine activity. However, the time course of mRNA accumulation for each lymphokine was distinct, the order of expression of these genes apparently being TNF-alpha, then IFN-gamma and GM-CSF, and finally IL-3. Our results emphasize that potential interactions among lymphokines must be considered when interpreting data obtained from lymphokine bioassays and suggest an immunoregulatory role for CTL through the secretion of several of the same lymphokines produced by HTL.