The ability of spleen cells from Chlamydia psittaci-infected mice to lyse C. psittaci-infected and uninfected target cell monolayers was studied. The cytotoxicity assay used was a terminal label method in which the number of adherent target cells surviving the interaction with effector cells was determined by measuring the uptake of [3H]uridine by such cells. It was observed that in the first few days postinfection (3 to 5), spleens contained cells that lysed infected and uninfected targets with equal efficiency. Subsequently, infected targets were killed primarily. The activity of effector spleen cells for infected targets continued, although at a reduced level, beyond 21 days postinfection. Intact effector cells were required since a disruption by sonication resulted in a loss of cytotoxicity. The enhanced killing observed with infected targets was also observed when target cells were sensitized with heat- or UV-inactivated C. psittaci. This study suggests that the induction of cytotoxic cells after C. psittaci infection may contribute to the ability of the host to control multiplication of the microorganism.