We have investigated the ability of porcine-platelet-derived transforming growth factor-beta 1 (TGF-beta 1) to inhibit the generation of lymphokine-activated killer (LAK) cells by human rIL-2. The results demonstrate that TGF-beta 1, in a dose-related manner, significantly inhibits rIL-2-induced LAK cell activity against Daudi and COLO target cells and, to a lesser degree, against K-562 cells. Maximal inhibition was obtained by the addition of TGF-beta 1 at the time of culture initiation and, to a lesser degree, on day 1. Only minimal inhibition was obtained when TGF-beta 1 addition was delayed until day 2 of culture or when added directly into the LAK cell assay. Additional studies demonstrated that porcine platelet-derived TGF-beta 2 and human rTGF-beta 1 inhibited LAK cell generation similar to that obtained with TGF-beta 1. The inhibition of LAK cell activity by TGF-beta 1 was reversed by the addition of human rTNF-alpha at the initiation of culture. In addition, rTNF-alpha synergized with suboptimal levels of rIL-2 in the generation of LAK activity. After stimulation with rIL-2, LAK cells produced significant levels of IFN-gamma, TNF-alpha, and TNF-beta. TGF-beta 1 inhibited the production of these cytokines in a dose-related manner. The results extend the previous known activities for human rTNF-alpha and TGF-beta 1 and further demonstrate the reciprocal relationship between these two molecules in the regulation of certain immune functions.