One of the most remarkable means by which tumour cells manage to evade recognition and elimination by the immune system is the release of immunosuppressive mediators, such as interleukin (IL)-10 or transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta). For antitumour immunotherapies to reach their full potential, cytokine cocktails will have to be custom-tailored to the tumour's individual cytokine microenvironment. One of the components of such a cytokine cocktail may be interleukin (IL)-15, which has demonstrated an excellent stimulatory potential of antitumour immunity. In an in vitro model, we have previously been able to show that the negative effects of IL-10 on IL-15-mediated cytotoxic T-cell activation can be outweighed by the addition of interleukin (IL)-12. The mechanism by which TGF-beta may influence the effect of IL-15 remains poorly understood, however. We have therefore taken our T-cell model further and have studied the effect of TGF-beta on IL-15-mediated interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) production. In activated, IL-15-stimulated peripheral blood T lymphocytes, TGF-beta suppressed IFN-gamma mRNA and protein levels by approximately 75%. This effect was likewise observed on both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells and, in contrast to the effect of IL-10 in this system, could not be neutralized by the addition of IL-12. Thus, immunotherapy for TGF-beta-producing tumours may benefit from the addition of TGF-neutralizing activity rather than IL-12.