Mycobacterial infection is a common occurrence in patients with acquired immune deficiency syndrome. Incubation of U1, a chronically HIV-1-infected human promonocytic cell line, with Mycobacterium smegmatis, M. avium, M. bovis BCG and M. tuberculosis resulted in enhancement of p24 antigen release in the supernatant, indicating that these mycobacteria could activate HIV replication from this cell line. The amount of p24 in the culture infected with M. smegmatis was higher than in cultures infected with other mycobacteria. The amounts of p24 release in cultures infected with M. avium and M. bovis BCG were intermediate. M. tuberculosis slightly stimulated HIV replication. The amount of TNF-alpha produced by U1 cells was correlated with the amount of p24 antigen release. The IL-1beta and IL-6 levels in the supernatant from cultures infected with all species were the same. The antibody to TNF-alpha inhibited p24 release induced by mycobacterial infections. The anti-IL-1beta and anti-IL-6 antibodies, however, scarcely influenced stimulation of HIV replication by mycobacterial infection. These data suggested that activation of HIV replication by mycobacteria mainly occurred by secondary release of cytokine TNF-alpha.