The antitumor effect and mechanisms activated by murine IL-12 and IL-18, cytokines that induce IFN-gamma production, were studied using engineered SCK murine mammary carcinoma cells. In syngeneic A/J mice, SCK cells expressing mIL-12 or mIL-18 were less tumorigenic and formed tumors more slowly than control cells. Neither SCK.12 nor SCK.18 cells protected significantly against tumorigenesis by distant SCK cells. However, inoculation of the two cell types together synergistically protected 70% of mice from concurrently injected distant SCK cells and 30% of mice from SCK cells established 3 d earlier. Antibody neutralization studies revealed that the antitumor effects of secreted mIL-12 and mIL-18 required IFN-gamma. Interestingly, half the survivors of SCK.12 and/or SCK.18 cells developed protective immunity suggesting that anti-SCK immunity is unlikely to be responsible for protection. Instead, angiogenesis inhibition, assayed by Matrigel implants, appeared to be a property of both SCK.12 and SCK.18 cells and the two cell types together produced significantly greater systemic inhibition of angiogenesis. This suggests that inhibition of tumor angiogenesis is an important part of the systemic antitumor effect produced by mIL-12 and mIL-18.