Humanized M195 (HuM195) is a genetically engineered, human IgG1 version of the parent M195, a mouse immunoglobulin G2a, anti-CD33 monoclonal antibody which reacts with early myeloid progenitor cells and myelogenous leukemia cells. In Phase I studies in patients with relapsed and refractory myelogenous leukemia, HuM195 safely targeted to sites of disease and was nonimmunogenic. HuM195 shows only modest capability of antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) against target HL60 cells and minimal cytolytic activity mediated by human complement. Therefore, efforts were made to enhance ADCC using cytokines. gamma-Interferon, granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor, and granulocyte colony-stimulating factor did not promote neutrophil-mediated ADCC with HuM195. However, interleukin-2 (IL-2) showed a range of 2-6-fold increases in ADCC against fresh myelogenous leukemia cells and HL60 cells over that seen with HuM195 or low-dose IL-2 alone. ADCC potency was not improved further by the use of homodimeric HuM195. Flow cytometry and Fc receptor-blocking experiments showed that CD16(+) cells were essential for IL-2-enhanced ADCC. As compared to HL60 cells, a multidrug-resistant line of HL60 cells was at least as susceptible to killing by IL-2 or HuM195 or in combination, suggesting that the mechanism of killing may be active against cells surviving and resistant to chemotherapy. Since these in vitro levels of IL-2 and HuM195 can be safely achieved in patients, the enhancement of HuM195 ADCC with low-dose IL-2 is a possible strategy that may be used in vivo to eliminate minimal disease in future trials of patients with myeloid leukemias.