We examined effects of priming with recombinant human interferon-gamma (IFN) or tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF) on neutrophil responses to Candida albicans hyphae. Both cytokines increased early superoxide generation after hyphal stimulation. The more pronounced effects of TNF were accompanied by an augmented surface membrane depolarization rate and were insensitive to both pertussis toxin and calcium ion chelation, but were negated by concomitant incubation with puromycin or cycloheximide during priming. IFN augmented hyphal killing despite its only minor enhancement of early respiratory burst responses, but TNF reduced neutrophil fungicidal activity to nearly 40% below those by unprimed control cells even though it enhanced early superoxide responses more dramatically. Though TNF-primed neutrophils killed hyphae at normal initial rates, IFN-primed or even unprimed cells manifested more fungicidal sustained activity. These disparate consequences of cytokine priming on hyphal destruction were paralleled by differences in late generation of potentially candidacidal oxidants, hydrogen peroxide, and hypochlorous acid. IFN added during priming failed to correct TNF-associated functional defects in neutrophil anti-Candida responses. Thus, augmentation of early respiratory burst responses to oxidant-sensitive organisms need not necessarily reflect concomitant salutary effects on microbicidal activity.