We showed that purified neuraminidase (NA) of influenza virus, but not hemagglutinin (HA), possessed the potential to increase in vitro and in vivo the interleukin 1 (IL 1) activity of mouse peritoneal macrophages. In this study, we report the effect of NA and HA on the secretion of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) activity by murine peritoneal macrophages. TNF being a cytokine sharing many related and overlapping biological functions with IL 1. The two glycoproteins of the strain A/USSR/90/77 (H1N1) were purified electrophoretically and were tested in vitro at doses ranging from 0.5 to 5.0 micrograms using the adherent peritoneal macrophages of C3H/HeN mice elicited with thioglycolate. The TNF activity of culture supernatants, collected 24 hr after stimulation with viral protein, was evaluated by the standard cytolytic assay using L929 and WEHI.164 cells. No increase of the TNF activity was observed at 0.5 micrograms of NA (4.8 Units (U)/ml in the L929 assay and 20.4 U/ml in the WEHI assay) but further increase of NA to 1.0 microgram had a significant effect on the TNF activity (39.7 and 88.8 U/ml, respectively). Higher concentrations of NA (2.0 and 5.0 micrograms) did not improve the TNF activity. The addition of a rabbit anti-TNF-alpha serum to the assay system reduced the lysis of L929 cells by 85%, suggesting that the observed activity was due to TNF. In parallel, the enhancement of IL 1 activity due to NA was reverified using D10.G4.1 cells instead of the C3H/HeJ thymocytes assay used previously. NA augmented the IL 1 activity up to 1.0 micrograms (25.8 U/ml). The addition of monoclonal anti-IL 1 antibodies (100 neutralizing units) to the supernatants reduced the incorporation of [3H]-thymidine by 90 to 95%, suggesting that the observed activity was due to IL 1. Comparative results of NA and HA showed that only NA stimulated the TNF and IL 1 activities of murine macrophages.