Host innate immune responses to many intracellular pathogens include the formation of inflammatory granulomas that are thought to provide a physical barrier between the microbe and host. Because two common features of infections with the live vaccine strain (LVS) of Francisella tularensis within the mouse liver are the formation of granulomas and the production of gamma interferon (IFN-gamma), we have asked what role IFN-gamma plays in hepatic granuloma formation and function. Francisella antigens were predominantly localized within granulomas of the livers of mice infected with F. tularensis LVS 4 days postinfection. Hepatic granulomas also contained large numbers of dying cells, some of which coexpressed the F4/80 macrophage antigen and activated caspase-3. IFN-gamma-deficient mice did not form normal numbers of hepatic granulomas and showed widely disseminated Francisella antigens within the liver. The incidence of cell death within hepatic granulomas also decreased significantly in the absence of IFN-gamma. Inducible NO synthase (iNOS) expression was restricted to the granulomas of wild-type mice but was not seen for IFN-gamma-deficient mice. Cell death within granulomas was also significantly decreased for iNOS-deficient mice. The predominant IFN-gamma-expressing cells in the liver were NK cells. Depleting NK cells resulted in the expression of bacterial antigens and iNOS outside the granulomas and the appearance of extensive hepatic focal necrosis. These findings indicate that IFN-gamma and hepatic NK cells that are activated during F. tularensis LVS infections regulate hepatic granuloma formation, the spatial containment of infection, the expression of iNOS, and the induction of cell death within the liver.