The effect of a slime-forming, encapsulated Lactococcus lactis ssp. cremoris KVS20 on macrophage function has been examined in vivo and in vitro in short-term studies. Peritoneal macrophages in which 21 to 34% of macrophage was presenting Fc gamma-receptor positive macrophages were elicited by intraperitoneal injection of 10 to 50 mg/kg of L. lactis ssp. cremoris KVS20. The peritoneal macrophage exhibited cytotoxic activity against Sarcoma-180 cells in which the maximum activity was obtained in macrophage from mice injected with 10 mg/kg on d 5. However, L. lactis ssp. cremoris KVS20 rendered the elicited macrophage cytotoxic in vitro. The cytotoxicity was significantly augmented by 6- and 24-h treatment at the concentration of 50 to 500 micrograms/ml. These results obtained in the short-term studies demonstrated that the antitumor activity of L. lactis ssp. cremoris KVS20 may be mediated through the enhanced cytotoxic activity of macrophage.