The treatment of cancer with lymphokine-activated killer (LAK) cells in conjunction with high-dose interleukin-2 (IL-2) has been limited by the toxicity of IL-2 and the narrow range of tumors that respond to therapy. Cytokines that are capable of augmenting lower doses of IL-2 are, therefore, a major focus of research. We report here that granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) can augment low-dose IL-2 LAK induction from murine splenocytes. Anti-tumor necrosis factor alpha (anti-TNF alpha) or anti-interferon gamma (anti- IFN gamma) monoclonal antibodies did not inhibit (IL-2 + GM-CSF)- induced LAK generation, indicating that GM-CSF augmentation does not require TNF alpha or IFN gamma activity. Depletion of natural killer cells before culture did not inhibit low-dose IL-2-induced LAK generation or the ability of GM-CSF to augment LAK generation. In contrast, depletion of both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells before culture inhibited the generation of LAK activity. However, depletion of only CD4+ T cells, or only CD8+ T cells, did not inhibit the generation of IL-2 or (IL-2 + GM-CSF) LAK activity. These results suggest that LAK precursors are present in both the CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell populations and suggest that the addition of GM-CSF to low-dose IL-2 may result in the generation of T-derived LAK cells.