Using various FcgammaR-deficient mice, we have obtained suggestive evidence that FcgammaRI on macrophages is responsible for severe cartilage destruction during arthritis mediated by immune complexes (ICs). This role of FcgammaRI is pronounced in the presence of activated Th1 cells and a likely Th1 cell-derived cytokine mediating up-regulation of FcgammaRI expression is interferon (IFN)-gamma. We now investigated whether local overexpression of IFN-gamma using an adenoviral vector is able to elevate cartilage destruction during experimental immune complex-mediated arthritis (ICA) and to what extent this process is FcgammaRI-mediated. IFN-gamma overexpression during ICA had no significant effect on the total cell mass infiltrating the knee joint. However, a higher percentage of macrophages expressing markers for a proinflammatory phenotype was found and these macrophages were situated in close proximity of the cartilage surface. Interestingly, cartilage destruction as studied by matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-mediated proteoglycan damage (VDIPEN expression), chondrocyte death, and erosion was significantly increased. This effect of IFN-gamma was only found in the presence of ICs, as IFN-gamma overexpression during zymosan-induced arthritis, which is not IC-dependent, did not lead to severe cartilage destruction. These results imply a crucial role for ICs and the IgG-binding receptors in the aggravation of cartilage damage by IFN-gamma. Local overexpression of IFN-gamma induced increased FcgammaRI mRNA levels in synovium. To study whether this up-regulation of FcgammaRI mediates aggravation of cartilage destruction, ICA was raised in FcgammaRI(-/-) and their wild-type controls. IFN-gamma resulted in elevated VDIPEN expression, which was still present in FcgammaRI(-/-). Of great interest, chondrocyte death remained low in FcgammaRI(-/-). These results indicate that IFN-gamma overexpression deteriorates cartilage destruction in the presence of ICs and that FcgammaRI is crucial in the development of chondrocyte death.