The novel cytokine interferon-gamma-inducing factor (IGIF) augments natural killer (NK) cell activity in cultures of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), similarly to the structurally unrelated cytokine interleukin (IL)-12. IGIF has been found to enhance the production of interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) and granulocyte/macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) while inhibiting the production of IL-10 in concanavalin A (Con A)-stimulated PBMC. In this study, when anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody (mAb)-stimulated human enriched T cells were exposed to IGIF, the cytokine dose-dependently enhanced the proliferation of the cells and this could be completely inhibited by a neutralizing antibody against IL-2 at lower concentrations of IGIF. Neutralizing antibody against IFN-gamma had only insignificant inhibitory effects on T cell proliferation at higher concentrations of IGIF. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) revealed that, like PBMC, T cells exposed to IGIF produced large amounts of IFN-gamma; however, changes in the production of IL-4 and IL-10 were minimal. IGIF, but not IL-12, significantly enhanced IL-2 and GM-CSF production in T cell cultures, as determined by CTLL-2 bioassay and ELISA, respectively; however, both IGIF and IL-12 enhanced IFN-gamma production by the T cells. When T cells were exposed to a combination of IGIF and IL-12, a synergistic effect was observed on the production of IFN-gamma, but not on production of IL-2 and GM-CSF. In conclusion, IGIF enhances T cell proliferation apparently through an IL-2-dependent pathway and enhances Th1 cytokine production in vitro and exhibits synergism when combined with IL-12 in terms of enhanced IFN-gamma production but not IL-2 and GM-CSF production. Based on structural and functional differences from any known cytokines, it was recently proposed that this cytokine be designated interleukin-18.