We have examined the ability of peptidoglycan (PepG) and lipoteichoic acid (LTA) isolated from Staphylococcus aureus to induce the release of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and IL-10 in whole human blood and identified the cellular origins of these cytokines. Both PepG and LTA induced transient increases in TNF-α and IL-10 in plasma, with peak values at 6 and 12 h, respectively. IL-6 values increased throughout the experimental period (24 h). The TNF-α, IL-6, and IL-10 release induced by PepG and LTA was dose dependent. Only PepG was a potent inducer of TNF-α secretion. After stimulation of whole blood with PepG or LTA, very pure populations of monocytes (CD14 positive), T cells (CD2 positive), B cells (CD19 positive), and granulocytes (CD15 positive) were isolated by immunomagnetic separation and analyzed by reverse transcription-PCR for mRNA transcripts encoding TNF-α, IL-6, and IL-10. The TNF-α mRNA results were inconclusive. In contrast, PepG induced IL-6 and IL-10 mRNA accumulation in both T cells and monocytes. LTA, as well as lipopolysaccharide, induced IL-6 and IL-10 mRNA production in monocytes and possibly in T cells. Whether granulocytes and B cells produce cytokines in response to bacterial stimuli remains obscure. Blockade of the CD14 receptors with monoclonal antibodies (18D11) had no influence on the PepG-induced release of TNF-α but attenuated the LTA-induced release of the same cytokine. In conclusion, our data indicate that circulating T cells and monocytes contribute to cytokine production in sepsis caused by gram-positive bacteria.