Bovine macrophage-derived tumour necrosis factor-alpha/ cachectin (TNF-a) was synthesized when peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and purified adherent PBMC from na-ve and Theileria annulata-infected cattle were incubated in vitro with concanavalin A (Con-A) or bovine recombinant interferon gamma (Bo rIFN–). TNF-a production was also induced when adherent PBMC were cultured with T. annulata macroschizont-infected cells. In contrast, non-adherent PBMC from sublethally infected cattle produced interferon (IFN) when incubated with Hu rIL-2, Con-A, phytohaemagglutinin (PHA) or T. annulata macroschizont-infected cells growing as cell lines in vitro. Whilst PBMC from lethally infected cattle spontaneously produced IFN– during advanced stages of infection, the sera of such animals contained type 1 IFN (alpha/beta). IFN was also produced by T. annulata macroschizont-infected cell lines maintained in vitro. This work suggests that cytokines serve as crucial links between proliferating Theileira-infected cells and the characteristic clinical symptoms of tropical theileriosis.