In past studies, we showed that T cells transduced with retroviral diphtheria immunotoxin (IT) target genes could serve as vehicles for delivering IT to tumors in vivo. We took advantage of the observation that antigen-specific T cells are able to penetrate tumors to design an approach delivering combined cellular and humoral therapy directly to the tumor site. To improve tumor specificity, we selected interleukin (IL)-3 as a ligand because its receptor is selectively overexpressed on myeloid leukemia progenitors. Because Bcl-2 family proteins show structural similarity to diphtheria toxin (DT), we constructed a unique retroviral IT using Bax, a proapoptotic member of the Bcl-2 family, in place of DT. Bax was chosen because several studies showed that its transduction induces lethal apoptosis in different cancers. The retroviral construct for gene therapy included IL-3 positioned downstream of its 80 amino acid leader, and permitted cotranslational protein synthesis of hybrid IL-3/human Bax fusion protein. Other vectors were constructed with IL-3 fused to DT or Pseudomonas exotoxin. Retroviral vectors were used to transiently transduce C8, a CD4+ T cell clone that specifically recognized FBL-3, a lethal myeloid leukemia. Supernatants collected from transduced cells showed proapoptotic activity and selectively inhibited FBL-3 cells in vitro. Intraperitoneal injection of transduced but not nontransduced C8 into mice with subcutaneous tumors or systemic cancer significantly inhibited tumor growth. These results indicate that retroviral IT made with IL-3 and various toxic proteins may be useful in patients with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). Furthermore, the Bax construct may be particularly useful as a nonimmunogenic substitute for bacterial toxins in retIT.