The effect of T-cell-independent B cell mitogen, a pectic polysaccharide, bupleuran 2IIc, from a medicinal herb, the roots of Bupleurum falcatum L. on interleukin 6 (IL-6) production of murine B cells and B cell lines was investigated in order to clarify the mechanism of enhanced immunoglobulin (Ig) secretion from B cells. Bupleuran 2IIc enhanced IgM secretion from highly purified murine normal B cells. When normal B cells from murine spleen were cultured with bupleuran 2IIc in the presence of anti-IL-6 neutralizing antibody, the enhanced IgM secretion by bupleuran 2IIc was reduced. When B cells were stimulated with bupleuran 2IIc, their IL-6 secretion and the transcription of IL-6 mRNA were enhanced. The enhanced IL-6 secretion by bupleuran 2IIc was also observed in B cell line, Y16 cell. When bupleuran 2IIc was digested with endo-alpha-(1-->4)-D-polygalacturonase, the resulting enzyme resistant carbohydrate portion, "ramified" region (PG-1) composed of rhamnogalacturonan core containing neutral sugar side chains showed potent IL-6 secretion-enhancing activity. These results suggest that the "ramified" region of bupleuran 2IIc stimulates the secretion of IL-6 as the active site, and the resulting IL-6 may partially contribute the enhancement of IgM secretion as an autocrine and/or paracrine mechanism.