Combination therapy with syngeneic anti-idiotype antibody and human hybrid rIFN-alpha A/D synergistically increase survival in C3H/HeN mice challenged with a lethal dose of tumor cells. C3H/HeJ mice, which have previously been described to be LPS hyporesponsive and have a defect in Fc gamma R function, did not respond to anti-idiotype therapy as well as C3H/HeN normal mice. This defect was completely corrected in animals treated simultaneously with IFN. Anti-idiotype mAb that was cleaved into F(ab')2 fragments no longer had any antitumor activity alone and could not be enhanced by IFN therapy. These results suggest that antibody is functioning through Fc gamma R-bearing effector cells that are enhanced by IFN therapy. Synergy between IFN and anti-idiotype mAb was maintained in nude mice lacking classical T cells but was reduced in C3H beige mice lacking classical NK/killer cells. IFN did not increase idiotype expression on the tumor cells but did increase H-2 expression. Although we have previously shown that rIFN-alpha A/D can directly kill 38C13 in vitro, an IFN-resistant subclone derived from 38C13, SIR-1, was equally or more responsive to human rIFN-alpha A/D in vivo and had a synergistic antitumor response to combination IFN and anti-idiotype therapy, indicating that IFN acts primarily through host mediated effects rather than direct effects.