Human peripheral blood leukocytes (PBL) from patients with chronic measles virus infection (SSPE) or from immune, adult humans (convalescent from acute childhood measles virus infection) are cytotoxic for target cells infected with measles virus as measured by a 51Cr assay. Specific release of 51Cr by immune PBL occurred both with and without human antibodies added to measles virus-infected cultures. Maximal killing in the absence of added antibodies to measles virus was usually detected only after 15 to 18 hr of incubation and with a high PBL to target ratio (100:1). When antibody to measles virus was added, PBL-mediated killing of virus-infected cells was not blocked. Instead, killing was enhanced and maximal lysis occurred with fewer PBL and a shorter incubation time. This cytotoxic reaction was inhibited in a dose-response manner upon the addition of Fab fragments of IgG containing antibodies to measles virus. On the average 4 to 5 x 105 antibody molecules bound per infected target cell before initiation of antibody-enhanced PBL killing. Depletion of either glass-adhering or E-rosette-forming cells did not reduce PBL killing of measles virus-infected target cells in either system. In contrast, removal of non-E rosette or of EAC rosette-forming population of PBL almost completely abrogated cytotoxicity. When Fc-bearing cells were removed, killing of virus-infected target cells was concomitantly reduced. Lysis of measles virus-infected target cells did not require histocompatibility between the PBL and the target cell. Further, immunospecific lymphocyte killing was not enhanced by such a histocompatibility fit. These experiments indicate first, that the effector PBL involved in lysis of measles virus-infected targets are not T cells but are probably K cells and, second, that PBL obtained from patients with SSPE are competent in killing measles virus-infected targets. Moreover, sera from SSPE patients did not contain a factor(s) that blocked PBL-mediated cytotoxicity.