Abstract Coculture of purified murine T cells with anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody (145-2C11) results in the induction of nonspecific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) with MHC-unrestricted cytolytic activity against a range of tumor targets. Serine proteases associated with effector cell granules are among the molecules postulated to play a role in cell-mediated cytolysis. The present study examines the ability of exogenous serine protease substrates to inhibit anti-CD3-activated cytotoxic T (ACT) cell-mediated killing of P815 mastocytoma and YAC1.2 lymphoma target cells. The chymotrypsin substrate N-acetyl- l-tyrosine ethyl ester (ATEE) was found to significantly inhibit ACT cell-mediated cytolysis. In contrast, the trypsin substrate N-benzoyl- l-arginine ethyl ester (BAEE) had little, if any, effect on ACT cell-mediated cytolysis. These effects were observed with both target cell populations. Conjugate inhibition studies performed with ATEE indicated that a chymotrypsin-like serine protease is involved in a postbinding event during cytolysis. Pretreatment of either target or effector cells with ATEE prior to cytolytic assay revealed that the chymotrypsin-like serine protease involved in cytotoxicity is of effector cell origin. Northern blot analysis of total RNA extracted from ACT cells revealed the presence of transcripts coding for CCP1 and CCP2 serine proteases known to be involved in antigen-specific CTL function, but little or no expression of the HF serine protease which has also been implicated in antigen-specific CTL killing. CCP2 exhibits chymotrypsin-like activity while HF displays trypsin-like activity. On the other hand, the CCP1 gene product has protease activity which resembles neither chymase nor tryptase activities. Thus, the level of mRNA expression for these serine proteases is consistent with our earlier observations, using the serine protease substrates, that a chymotrypsin-like serine protease but not a trypsin-like serine protease is involved in ACT cell-mediated cytolysis. “Lymphocyte panning” of ACT cells revealed abundant CCP1 and moderate CCP2 mRNA expression in CD4 − and CD8 + anti-CDS-activated T cells with strong tumoricidal activity. CDS − anti-CD3-activated T cells with moderate cytolytic activity also expressed substantial levels of CCP1 and CCP2 mRNA, suggesting that both CD4 − CD8 − and CD4 − CD8 + ACT cells participate in killing tumor targets. In contrast, CD4 + anti-CD3-activated T cells lacked both cytolytic activity and significant CCP1 and CCP2 mRNA expression. These findings are consistent with the involvement of chymotrypsin-like, as well as other, serine proteases in CTL-mediated lysis.