We demonstrated that heat-killed Corynebacterium liquefaciens bacteria, as a known potent host immune activity modulator, stimulate spleen cells to produce granulocyte-macrophage (GM) colony-stimulating factor (CSF) and another CSF with similar activity, as well as alpha/beta interferon, when injected intravenously into mice. Alpha/beta interferon was shown to be produced by C. liquefaciens-activated plastic-G-10 column-adherent cells (A cells) in a thymus-independent manner. In contrast, augmented production of GM-CSF required the action of C. liquefaciens-activated T lymphocytes that collaborated with normal A cells. Non-T spleen cells from C. liquefaciens-stimulated athymic mice, however, produced an alternative CSF that partially replaced GM-CSF. Correspondingly, the numbers of GM-producing CFU developing in cultures of spleen cells from C. liquefaciens-treated euthymic or athymic mice were 10 to 30 times higher than those in cultures of spleen cells from untreated mice. These results suggest that gram-positive rods such as C. liquefaciens activate T and A cells for production of multiple cytokines and that potential cooperative actions of these cytokines underlie the known immunomodulatory action of coryneforms.