- Oncogene-transformed BALB/c-3T3 fibroblasts which spontaneously or upon immune-activation with cytokines and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) generate IL-1 alpha, were tested for their tumorigenicity as well as their interaction with natural immune defense by NK cells and macrophages. Oncogene-transformed fibroblasts were weakly tumorigenic, since not all mice developed tumors despite application of high doses of tumor cells. This was independent of the immune status of the host. However, in the immunocompetent host those transformed fibroblast lines which spontaneously produced IL-1 alpha grew only transiently and then regressed. After induction of IL-1 alpha production, a decrease in the rate of tumor take was noted and the rate of regression of developing tumors was increased. Regression of IL-1-producing transformed fibroblasts was strongly reduced but not completely abolished in sublethally irradiated mice. This indicated that IL-1 production may predominantly influence T-cell-mediated defense, but some influence on non-adaptive immunity could not be excluded a priori. IL-1 production did not influence susceptibility of transformed fibroblasts towards NK cells and macrophages. However, IL-1-producing transformed fibroblasts were most potent stimulators of NK cells and macrophages, the stimulatory effect being locally restricted. In conclusion, IL-1 producing, oncogene-transformed fibroblasts which generated the cytokine constitutively or upon immune-activation, were rejected from the tumor-bearing host following initial growth. Fibroblast-induced local activation of NK cells and macrophages was shown to play some role in tumor graft rejection. The influence of IL-1 production of transformed fibroblasts on T-cell-mediated defense is addressed in the accompanying report.