The mechanism by which tumors are rejected following the adoptive transfer of tumor-specific T cells is not well characterized. Recent work has challenged the requirement for cytotoxicity mediated by either the perforin/granzyme or Fas/Fas ligand pathway in T cell-mediated tumor regression. Many reports, including ours, suggest that tumor-specific production of IFN-gamma is critical for T cell-mediated tumor regression. However, in most of these studies the evidence to support the role for IFN-gamma is only indirect. We have directly examined the requirement for IFN-gamma using IFN-gamma knockout (GKO) mice. The results show an interesting dichotomy in the requirement for IFN-gamma: Antitumor immunity induced by active-specific immunotherapy (vaccination) required IFN-gamma, whereas adoptive immunotherapy did not. In GKO mice vaccination with the GM-CSF gene-modified B16BL6-D5 tumor (D5-G6) failed to induce protective immunity against parental D5 tumor. However, adoptive transfer of effector T cells from GKO mice cured 100% of GKO mice with established pulmonary metastases and induced long term antitumor immunity and depigmentation of skin. Furthermore, in vivo neutralization of IFN-gamma by mAb treatment or adoptive transfer into IFN-gamma receptor knockout mice failed to block the therapeutic efficacy of effector T cells generated from wild-type or perforin knockout mice. Analysis of regressing metastases revealed similar infiltrates of macrophages and granulocytes in both wild-type and GKO mice. These results indicate that in this adoptive immunotherapy model, neither a direct effect on the tumor nor an indirect effect of IFN-gamma through activation of myeloid or lymphoid cells is critical for therapeutic efficacy.