A novel type of succinoyl trehalose lipid (STL-1) prepared from n-hexadecane-culture of Rhodococcus erythropolis SD-74 markedly inhibited the growth of a human monocytoid leukemic cell line, U937, and induced its morphological alteration along a monocyte-macrophage lineage. STL-1 markedly increased differention-associated characteristics in macrophage, such as nitroblue tetrazolium reducing ability, appearance of Fc receptor, phagocytic activities in U937. Furthermore, U937 cells, which were activated with STL-1 exhibited cytotoxic activity against human lung carcinoma cell line A549. However, STL-1 did not affect growth of a normal human fetal lung cell line TIG-1. The individual components of STL-1, neither sugar moiety nor fatty acids in the free form, were effective at inducing the differentiation of U937 cell. From these results, we concluded that STL-1 has low cytotoxicity against normal human cells and the ester molecule itself is responsible for the activity of inducing differentiation of human monocytoid leukemic cell line U937 into monocyte-macrophage which results in the stimulation of the production of some cytotoxic substances.