In the present study the individual and interactive effects of clofazimine, or three analogues of this agent (selected on the basis of similar or superior pro-oxidative properties: B669, B746 and B4021) and human recombinant TNF-alpha on the generation of antimicrobial oxidants by human polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNL), as well as release of granule enzymes from these cells, were investigated in vitro. All four riminophenazines at the concentrations tested (0.5 and 1.0 micrograms/ml) significantly increased myeloperoxidase (MPO)-mediated iodination, superoxide (0(2).-) generation, oxygen (0(2)) consumption and chemiluminescence (CL), as well as the release of both primary and secondary granule contents (measured as the release of MPO, lysozyme and vitamin B12-binding protein) by stimulated PMNL. Similar, but less impressive effects were observed with TNF-alpha (0.4-50.0 ng/ml). When PMNL were preincubated with both TNF-alpha and clofazimine or its analogues, the observed stimulation of cellular oxidative metabolism and granule enzyme release was at least additive in many assays. These data demonstrate that the spectrum of effects of clofazimine and its analogues on PMNL closely resemble those of TNF-alpha. Furthermore, TNF-alpha potentiates the pro-oxidative effects of clofazimine and its analogues on PMNL. Among the riminophenazines tested, clofazimine and B669 appear to be the most potent pro-oxidative agents for PMNL.