Eight distinct polysaccharides (PS) of beta(1 leads to 3) glucan type were tested for their capacity to render murine peritoneal exudate cells (PEC) cytotoxic. After intraperitoneal injection of lentinan, pachymaran and HE-pachyman 3 and 4 highly cytotoxic PEC were induced. Pachyman and HE-pachyman 1 and 2 were of moderate effect, whereas CM-pachymaran and HE-pachyman 3 and 4, highly cytotoxic PEC were induced. Pachyman and HE-pachymacrophages. The induction of PEC-dependent cytotoxicity exhibited a strict dose relationship. Optimal administration of PS resulted in the induction of cytotoxicity, which persisted for more than 25 days. Surprisingly, none of the PS tested was capable of rendering normal or thioglycollate-induced PEC cytoxic under in vitro conditions. It is suggested that the capacity of PS to render in vivo macrophages cytotoxic is related to the potency of these PS to activate the alternative pathway of complement system (APC) in so far as C3b may be the essential component required to render macrophages cytotoxic.