CD137 (ILA/4-1BB), a member of the TNF receptor family, was shown previously to inhibit proliferation and to induce apoptosis in T lymphocytes. In this study, we identify CD137 as a novel and potent monocyte activation factor. CD137 protein induces expression of IL-6, IL-8, and TNF-alpha, and inhibits expression of IL-10. Furthermore, CD137 differentially regulates expression of cell surface receptors. It induces expression of ICAM and reduces expression of FcgammaRIII, while levels of HLA-DR remain unchanged. CD137 also promotes adherence of monocytes. These effects of CD137 require immobilization of CD137 protein, indicating that they are mediated by cross-linking of a corresponding ligand/coreceptor expressed on monocytes.