We investigated the ability of staphylococcal enterotoxins A and B, exfoliative toxins A and B, and toxic shock syndrome toxin 1 to activate macrophages. All of the toxins tested had the potential to stimulate tumoricidal activity in peritoneal macrophages from lipopolysaccharide-responsive C3HeB/FeJ mice. In contrast, none of the toxins activated cytotoxicity in lipopolysaccharide-unresponsive macrophages from C3H/HeJ mice. We also studied toxin stimulation of monokine secretion. Staphylococcal enterotoxin A, toxic shock syndrome toxin 1, and both exfoliative toxins triggered C3HeB/FeJ macrophages to secrete tumor necrosis factor alpha, but enterotoxin B induced only marginal amounts of tumor necrosis factor. All of the toxins used stimulated interleukin-6 production by macrophages from both strains of mice. Nitric oxide is produced in response to the exfoliative toxins only by the lipopolysaccharide-responsive macrophages. These results suggest that macrophages respond differently to several staphylococcal exotoxins.