Mice lacking suppressor of cytokine signaling-1 (SOCS1) develop a complex fatal neonatal disease. In this study, SOCS1-/- mice were shown to exhibit excessive responses typical of those induced by interferon gamma (IFNgamma), were hyperresponsive to viral infection, and yielded macrophages with an enhanced IFNgamma-dependent capacity to kill L. major parasites. The complex disease in SOCS1-/- mice was prevented by administration of anti-IFNgamma antibodies and did not occur in SOCS1-/- mice also lacking the IFNgamma gene. Although IFNgamma is essential for resistance to a variety of infections, the potential toxic action of IFNgamma, particularly in neonatal mice, appears to require regulation. Our data indicate that SOCS1 is a key modulator of IFNgamma action, allowing the protective effects of this cytokine to occur without the risk of associated pathological responses.