The polysaccharide levan (polyfructose) has previously been shown to exert an inhibitory effect on the growth of several murine tumors. This activity is mediated by a host reaction, involving mainly macrophages but also other elements of the immune system. It was not clear, however, whether levan-activated macrophages act by a direct cytocydal effect on the tumor cells or via the activation of a specific immune response to the tumor. In the present study, the possibility of a direct cytotoxicity of levan-activated macrophages against Lewis lung carcinoma cells was tested by coculture in vitro. It was found that levan-induced (as well as paraffin oil induced) macrophages actually exert a direct cytotoxic effect on Lewis lung carcinoma cells. The tumor cell killing is mediated by cell to cell contact. A cytoplasmic bridge was often seen between the macrophage and the tumor cell. The remaining tumor cells in the lysed area appear slender, shrunken and non-dividing.