A Bacillus thuringiensis isolate, 89-T-34-22, belonging to the serovar shandongiensis (H22) produced noninsecticidal and nonhemolytic proteins crystallizing into irregular-shaped parasporal inclusions. The proteins showed in vitro cytotoxicity to human cells, including cancer cells, only when activated by protease treatment. The human leukemic T (MOLT-4) cells were > 100 times more susceptible than HeLa and normal T cells to the proteins of 89-T-34-22. The cytotoxicity was dose dependent and the median effective concentration for the MOLT-4 was 3.5 microg/ml. The cytopathy induced by the 89-T-34-22 proteins was characterized by remarkable condensation of the nucleus and cell-ballooning. Five major parasporal proteins of 89-T-34-22, with molecular masses in the range of 16-160 kDa, shared no similarity with the previously reported proteins in terms of the N-terminal sequence.