The involvement of macrophages in protection against diabetes mellitus in mice of BALB/c (susceptible) and C57BL (resistant) strains infected with the B (non-diabetogenic) or D (highly diabetogenic) variant of encephalomyocarditis (EMC) virus was examined. Pretreatment with the B variant of EMC virus (EMC-B), avirulent interferon (IFN) inducer, or Corynebacterium parvum inhibited diabetes in BALB/c mice infected with the D variant of EMC virus (EMC-D). Treatment of C57BL mice with carrageenan to compromise macrophage function rendered C57BL mice susceptible to EMC-D-induced diabetes. In macrophage culture for BALB/c mice, EMC-B induced IFN at an earlier stage than did EMC-D. The C57BL mouse-derived macrophages produced more IFN than did BALB/c mouse-derived macrophages after stimulation with EMC-D. Moreover, C. parvum increased IFN production in macrophage cultures from BALB/c mice, whereas carrageenan inhibited that in macrophage cultures from C57BL mice. These results suggest that IFN derived from macrophages may have an important role in protecting mice against EMC virus infection.