It has been postulated that an inflammatory response after cutaneous wounding is a prerequisite for healing, and inflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin-6 (IL-6), might be intimately involved in this process. IL-6-deficient transgenic mice (IL-6 KO) displayed significantly delayed cutaneous wound healing compared with wild-type control animals, requiring up to threefold longer to heal. This was characterized by minimal epithelial bridge formation, decreased inflammation, and granulation tissue formation. Using electrophoretic mobility shift assays of wound tissue from IL-6 KO mice, decreased AP-1 transcription factor activation was shown compared with wild-type mice 16 h after wounding. In situ hybridization of wound tissue from wild-type mice revealed IL-6 mRNA expression primarily in the epidermis at the leading edge of the wound. Delayed wound healing in IL-6 KO mice was reversed with a single dose of recombinant murine IL-6 or intradermal injection of an expression plasmid containing the full-length murine IL-6 cDNA. Treatment with rmIL-6 also reconstituted wound healing in dexamethasone-treated immunosuppressed mice. The results of this study may indicate a potential use for IL-6 therapeutically where cutaneous wound healing is impaired.