Tumour necrosis factor alpha (ref. 1), synthesized primarily by monocytes in response to various invasive agents, induces a wide variety of biological effects relevant to regulating cell growth and differentiation, including the selective killing of some tumour cells and the growth stimulation of some normal fibroblasts. As tumour necrosis factor (TNF) appears to kill tumour cells preferentially, we asked whether TNF sensitivity correlates with the expression of specific oncogene(s). If so, by examining the cellular target(s) of the oncogene product, it might be possible to identify specific factor(s) which mediate TNF action. By using an in vitro cytotoxicity assay with NIH 3T3 and Fisher BRK-derived cells expressing exogenously introduced oncogenes, we found that adenovirus E1A proteins induce susceptibility to TNF killing.