We examined purified human large granular lymphocytes, peripheral monocytes, and T cells for their ability to mediate antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) with murine monoclonal antibodies. We also evaluated the effects of pretreatment of cells with interleukin 2 and interferon to augment ADCC activity. MB3.6, a murine monoclonal antibody directed against the GD3 ganglioside, induced high levels of ADCC. This ADCC was mediated predominantly, if not completely, by human killer cells (large granular lymphocytes) whereas other effector cell populations demonstrated no significant cytotoxic activity in 6- or 18-hr assays. The IgG2a an anti-melanoma antibody 9.2.27 generated low or no ADCC with most normal donors or melanoma patients. IL 2 was a very potent booster of ADCC activity. Interferon alpha also was effective, whereas interferon gamma did not augment but rather inhibited reactivity. We tested a large panel of antibodies of various isotype against colon carcinoma cells and found that gamma-3 isotype antibodies more frequently generated ADCC and produced higher levels of cytotoxic activity than did IgG1 or IgG2 antibodies. It appears that a variety of parameters can affect ADCC reactions, including the type of effector cell and its level of activation, the isotype of the antibody, and properties of the target cell line such as its susceptibility to lysis.