In a study in 75 volunteers, preparations of interferon-beta1b (IFN-beta1b) and IFN-beta1a were compared in terms of the resulting serum concentrations of three biologic markers, neopterin, human Mx protein, and 2',5' oligoadenylate synthetase. Each preparation was tested at five dose levels, the middle dose being that recommended for use in patients with multiple sclerosis on the basis of large clinical trials. Five randomly chosen volunteers each received a single subcutaneous dose of one of the IFN or of IFN-beta1a given intramuscularly. The amounts of each marker induced were dose related. There were no major differences between the results with the two IFN or in the duration of the changes in the markers after the two routes of injection. The data indicated that 8 million international units (MIU) of IFN-beta1b and 6 MIU of IFN-beta1a had very similar effects. Even after the highest single dose tested, the increase in the biologic markers were not sustained for a full week.