Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is a neurotrophic cytokine, however, its direct effect on nerve regeneration has not been well characterized. We therefore examined the effect of IL-6 on neurite regeneration using the rat dorsal root ganglion. IL-6 significantly enhanced neurite regeneration from transected nerve terminals. We also examined the mRNA expression of IL-6 family cytokines and their receptors during the regeneration. The mRNA expressions of IL-6, IL-6 receptor, leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF), ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) receptor alpha, and LIF receptor beta showed no significant differences by the addition of IL-6. In contrast, IL-6 enhanced the mRNA expression of gp130 and CNTF. In addition, CNTF significantly increased neurite regeneration when added exogenously. Our data suggest that IL-6 enhanced regeneration via up-regulating CNTF expression.