Fungicidal activity of murine peritoneal macrophages for the yeast form of the dimorphic fungal pathogen P. brasiliensis was studied. Killing was assessed by reduction of colony forming units (CFU) using a new medium which has a good plating efficiency. Resident peritoneal macrophages phagocytosed but did not kill P. brasiliensis. Macrophages treated overnight with recombinant gamma-interferon (IFN), lymph node cells plus concanavalin A (Con A) or Con A-stimulated spleen cell culture supernatants (Con A Sup) reproducibly killed three different isolates of P. brasiliensis (35 - 55%, P less than 0.05 - P less than 0.001). This is the first demonstration of killing of this organism by macrophages. Activated macrophages did not show enhanced phagocytosis of P. brasiliensis. Activation of macrophages for killing by IFN was dose-dependent and, varying with the isolate, 100 - 10,000 U/ml was required for inducing significant fungicidal effects against P. brasiliensis. Activation of macrophages by IFN or Con A Sup was abrogated by anti-IFN antibody. These results suggest that immune modulation may be an approach to therapy of paracoccidioidomycosis. Killing was not significantly inhibited in the presence of superoxide dismutase (450 U/ml), catalase (20,000 U/ml), dimethylsulfoxide (300 mM) or azide (1 mM). This indicated that killing mechanism(s) did not depend upon products of the oxidative burst. These results show that P. brasiliensis can be significantly killed by activated macrophages without products of the oxidative burst.