Macrophages from different inbred mouse strains exhibit striking differences in their sensitivity to anthrax lethal toxin (LeTx)-induced cytolysis. Although LeTx-induced cytolysis of macrophages plays an important role in the outcome of anthrax infection, the sensitivity of macrophages in vitro does not correlate with in vivo susceptibility to infection of Bacillus anthracis. This divergence suggests that additional factors other than LeTx are involved in the cytolysis of LeTx-resistant macrophages in vivo. We found that LeTx-resistant macrophages became sensitive to LeTx-induced cytolysis when these cells were activated by bacterial components. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha induced by bacterial components was a key factor that cooperated with LeTx in inducing LeTx-resistant macrophage death. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha/LeTx-induced death of LeTx-resistant macrophages was dependent on mTor (mammalian target of rapamycin), but independent of caspases. Our data indicate that host responses to anthrax infection contribute to cytolysis of LeTx- resistant macrophages.