Systemic disease by Cryptococcus neoformans (C. neoformans) is a common opportunistic infection in immunodeficient patients. Cellular immunity seems to be the most important determinant of resistance. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of recombinant rat interferon gamma (IFN-gamma) in murine cryptococcosis (Balb/c mice infected by IP route with the Rivas strain of C. neoformans), evaluating survival time, macroscopic and microscopic examination of the organs, and massive seeding of brain homogenate. IFN-gamma treatment, at a daily dose of 10,000 IU, did not modify significantly these variables when mice were challenged with a high inoculum (10(7) yeasts) and treatment was delayed to 5 days after infection (median survival 21 days in control mice vs. 23 days in IFN-treated). Another set of experiments suggested that IFN-gamma treatment, at a dose of 10,000 IU/day, begun at the moment of infection could be useful (it prolonged survival from 20 to 28 days, although the difference did not achieve statistical signification). When used simultaneously with infection by 3.5 x 10(5) yeasts, IFN-gamma at 10,000 IU/day for 15 days significantly prolonged survival of mice (p = 0.004). These results suggest that, depending on the experimental conditions, IFN-gamma can improve survival of mice infected with a lethal dose of C. neoformans.