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The toxic properties of human recombinant tumor necrosis factor (TNF) were investigated in mice made hypersensitive to endotoxin by treatment with D-galactosamine. C3H/TifF mice treated with D-galactosamine were rendered sensitive to the lethal effects of submicrogram amounts of TNF. In the absence of D-galactosamine, TNF caused approximately 80% lethality with 500 micrograms. The duration of sensitization to TNF lasted up to 8 h after D-galactosamine administration, that towards LPS, up to 4 h. As with LPS, with TNF sensitization could be inhibited by uridine administered up to 2 h after D-galactosamine/TNF, showing that the early biochemical alterations in the liver known to be necessary for sensitization to LPS are also necessary for sensitization to TNF. In contrast to LPS, the toxicity of TNF was expressed also in D- galactosamine-treated endotoxin-resistant C3H/HeJ mice. The susceptibility of these mice to TNF was identical to that of endotoxin sensitive mice. In the absence of D-galactosamine the toxicity of TNF in C3H/HeJ mice was comparable to that obtained in C3H/TifF mice, being lethal with amounts of the order of 500 micrograms. The present results support the hypothesis that TNF is a mediator of lethal toxicity of endotoxin.