Gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) can be cytolytic for normal mouse fibroblasts isolated from embryonic or adult tissue (R. Dijkmas, B. Decock, H. Heremans, J. Van Damme, and A. Billiau, Lymphokine Res. 8:25-34, 1989). This cytotoxicity has been shown to be transcription and translation dependent, thereby suggesting involvement of a suicidelike mechanism. The dose of IFN-gamma required for cytotoxicity is higher than that needed for antiviral and macrophage activation but can be reduced 10- to 100-fold by cotreatment of the cells with tumor necrosis factor or interleukin-1 (IL-1) or both, two cytokines that by themselves are not toxic for these cells. Here, we show that bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS), which alone has no effect on the viability of mouse fibroblasts, stimulates cell suicide induced by IFN-gamma. The effect was observed in cultures that were virtually free of nonfibroblastoid cells. LPS showed its toxicity-enhancing effect only if applied on the cells simultaneously with or immediately after treatment with IFN-gamma. Pretreatment of the cells with LPS was ineffective. Inclusion of antibodies directed against tumor necrosis factor alpha or IL-1 alpha in the culture medium did not block the cytotoxic effect of combined IFN-gamma plus LPS treatment. The time courses of cell toxicity appearance in fibroblasts treated with combined IFN-gamma plus LPS or IFN-gamma plus IL-1 were similar. In addition to LPS, heat-killed gram-negative (Escherichia coli) but also gram-positive (Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria monocytogenes) bacteria were found to enhance IFN-gamma-induced cell death. These findings suggest that IFN-gamma formed in vivo during infectious processes directly aggravates tissue destruction.