The induction of porcine cytokines, which are believed to be important for the regulation of T helper (Th)1- and Th2-specific immune responses of pigs, was analysed after in vitro restimulation with a herpesvirus, Suid herpes 1 (pseudorabies virus [PRV]), in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). To this end, quantitative, competitive reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-qcPCR) was established using constructed heterologous DNA MIMICS, which contain cytokine- or glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH)-specific primer-binding sites. This is a simple method that allows reliable determination of the differing regulation of cytokine mRNAs specific for porcine interleukin (IL)-2, -4 and -10, interferon gamma (IFN-gamma) and the housekeeping gene, GAPDH, as an endogenous control. PBMC derived from naive (innate response) and PRV-primed (memory response) outbred swine were analysed comparatively. The results demonstrated that restimulation with PRV significantly enhanced the transcription of Th1-type cytokines (IL-2 and IFN-gamma) but not of Th2-type cytokines (IL-4 and IL-10). This virus-specific cytokine response was only found with PBMC from swine protected against lethal PRV challenge infection, but not with naive PBMC or with PBMC from pigs immunized with plasmid DNA encoding PRV glycoprotein gC. Notably, PBMC derived from immune and naive pigs constitutively produced relatively high amounts of IL-10-specific mRNA, exceeding that of GAPDH mRNA, independently of the addition of viral antigen or the mitogen concanavalin A (Con A). The results of this work should help to provide a better understanding of the effector cell/cytokine network response to infection with, or vaccination against, PRV. Additionally, the simple, reliable and sensitive RT-qcPCR, when used to determine the porcine cytokine pattern, might be of prognostic value for the induction of protective immunity.