Recombinant murine interleukin (IL)-12 (rmIL-12) exhibits antitumor, antiviral, and antimicrobial activities and can modify allergic inflammatory reactions in animal models. Recombinant human IL-12 (rhIL-12) is currently in clinical trials for treatment of cancer, asthma, and viral hepatitis. Principally a phagocyte-derived cytokine, IL-12 targets natural killer cells and T lymphocytes, stimulating their activity and the secretion of interferon (IFN)-gamma. An understanding of the toxicology of IL-12, due in part to effects mediated by IFN-gamma, has emerged from preclinical safety and mechanistic studies and initial clinical trials. Target organs common to several animal species and humans include the lymphohematopoietic system, intestines, liver, and lung.