In this report, data are presented on the regulation of MHC class II antigen expression by a mediator present in supernatants of human mixed leukocyte cultures (MLC-SN), and which is different from IFN-gamma. The capacity of supernatants to induce antigen expression did not correspond to titers of IFN-gamma. Removal of IFN-gamma using either dialysis against pH 2 or neutralizing mAb against human IFN-gamma did not abrogate the MHC class II antigen expression-inducing capacity of MLC-SN when tested on adenocarcinoma cell lines, kidney epithelial cells, and fibroblasts in vitro in an indirect immunofluorescence assay. Therefore, supernatants of human leukocytes contain a mediator, different from IFN-gamma, which induces expression of MHC class II antigens. Dose-response studies revealed that the mediator is produced after allogeneic and lectin stimulation of human leukocytes, and by unstimulated leukocytes. Activation of leukocytes resulted in increased titers of the mediator. The mediator markedly enhances expression of both HLA-DR and HLA-DQ antigens, whereas IFN-gamma had a similar effect on HLA-DR antigens, and only a minor effect on HLA-DQ antigens. Interaction of the mediator and IFN-gamma resulted in a potentiating effect of these two factors on MHC class II antigen expression. Biochemical analysis revealed a mediator, distinguishable by FPLC from IL-1, IL-2, and human IFN-gamma, and which has a molecular mass of 32 kD.