TNF alpha is a protein secreted by lipopolysaccharide-stimulated macrophages, and causes tumor necrosis when injected into tumor bearing mice. TNF alpha exists as a multimer of two, three, or five non-covalently linked units, but shows a single 17kDa band following SDS PAGE under non-reducing conditions. TNF alpha causes cytolysis of certain transformed cells. Although it has little effect on many cultured normal human cells, TNF alpha appears to be directly toxic to vascular endothelial cells. Other actions of TNF alpha include stimulating growth of human fibroblasts and other cell lines, activating polymorphonuclear neutrophils and osteoclasts, and induction of interleukin 1, prostaglandin E2 and collagenase production. TNF alpha is currently being evaluated in treatment of certain cancers and AIDS Related Complex.