Sepsis is associated with increased intestinal permeability, but mediators and mechanisms are not fully understood. We examined the role of interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-10 in sepsis-induced increase in intestinal permeability. Intestinal permeability was measured in IL-6 knockout (IL-6 -/-) and wild-type (IL-6 +/+) mice 16 h after induction of sepsis by cecal ligation and puncture or sham operation. In other experiments, mice or intestinal segments incubated in Ussing chambers were treated with IL-6 or IL-10. Intestinal permeability was assessed by determining the transmucosal transport of the 4.4-kDa marker fluorescein isothiocyanate conjugated dextran and the 40-kDa horseradish peroxidase. Intestinal permeability for both markers was increased in septic IL-6 +/+ mice but not in septic IL-6 -/- mice. Treatment of nonseptic mice or of intestinal segments in Ussing chambers with IL-6 did not influence intestinal permeability. Plasma IL-10 levels were increased in septic IL-6 -/- mice, and treatment of septic mice with IL-10 resulted in reduced intestinal permeability. Increased intestinal permeability during sepsis may be regulated by an interaction between IL-6 and IL-10. Treatment with IL-10 may prevent the increase in mucosal permeability during sepsis.