Tumor-associated macrophages (TAM) isolated from pleural effusions and ascites fluids of cancer patients were tested for cytotoxicity against freshly isolated autologous tumor cells and K562 in a 4-h 51Cr-release assay, and in vitro effects of OK432 (a streptococcal preparation) and partially purified human leukocyte interferon (IFN) on their cytotoxicities were examined. Positive cytotoxicities against K562 were recorded for TAM samples from 2 of 23 pleural effusions and 3 of 10 ascites specimens. Tumor-associated macrophages were not cytotoxic to autologous tumor cells, while low but significant lysis was observed with tumor-associated lymphocytes (TAL) samples from 2 of 13 pleural effusions and 1 of 6 ascites specimens. In vitro treatment with OK432 resulted in an enhancement of natural cytotoxicity in 4 of 13 TAM and 10 of 15 TAL samples. An induction or augmentation of autologous tumor killing activity by OK432 was observed in 2 of 10 TAM and 8 of 11 TAL samples. In contrast, IFN failed to induce autologous tumor killing activity, although IFN-enhanced lysis of K562 was detected in 1 of 7 TAM and 2 of 9 TAL samples. These results indicated that autologous tumor killing and natural cytotoxic activities were defective in macrophages and lymphocytes at the site of the tumor growth, and both activities were strongly enhanced by OK432 rather than IFN.