Interleukin-12 (IL-12) production by human monocytes stimulated with mannoproteins (MPs) of Cryptococcus neoformans was investigated. The results reported show that secreted or cell-associated MPs induce an early and significant production of IL-12. MPs show different capabilities to quantitatively affect IL-12 production; MP2, an 8.2-kDa MP purified from the culture supernatant of C. neoformans, appears to be the most potent stimulator. Cytochalasin B inhibits both internalization and IL-12 induction by MP. In addition, a drastic reduction of IL-12 was observed when monocytes were cultured in the absence of normal human serum or treated with soluble mannan. Early production of IL-12 promotes early secretion of gamma interferon by T cells but does not influence the magnitude of the MP-induced lymphoproliferative response. Overall our results identify cryptococcal antigens responsible for rapid and potent induction of IL-12 in monocytes. MPs appear to regulate IL-12 secretion by internalization via the endocytic pathway and by interaction with monocyte receptors or serum factors.