Human interleukin 2 (IL-2; Proleukin) is an approved therapeutic for advanced-stage metastatic cancer; however, its use is restricted because of severe systemic toxicity. Its function as a central mediator of T-cell activation may contribute to its efficacy for cancer therapy. However, activation of natural killer (NK) cells by therapeutically administered IL-2 may mediate toxicity. Here we have used targeted mutagenesis of human IL-2 to generate a mutein with approximately 3,000-fold in vitro selectivity for T cells over NK cells relative to wild-type IL-2. We compared the variant, termed BAY 50-4798, with human IL-2 (Proleukin) in a therapeutic dosing regimen in chimpanzees, and found that although the T-cell mobilization and activation properties of BAY 50-4798 were comparable to human IL-2, BAY 50-4798 was better tolerated in the chimpanzee. BAY 50-4798 was also shown to inhibit metastasis in a mouse tumor model. These results indicate that BAY 50-4798 may exhibit a greater therapeutic index than IL-2 in humans in the treatment of cancer and AIDS.