IL-10 is overexpressed in human chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), and is an autocrine growth factor involved in the development of malignant B1 clones in NZB mice, a murine model for CLL. Antisense IL-10 oligonucleotide treatment induces apoptosis and cell cycle disruption in these cells both in vitro and in vivo. In addition, NZB IL-10 knock-out mice fail to develop the B-1 clones. Dampening of IL-10 protein production via antisense IL-10 oligonucleotide treatment is correlated with decreased p27/Kip1 protein expression which results in increased cyclin D2, cyclin E and cyclin A associated kinase activity. The action of the antisense oligonucleotides is through alterations in cell cycle regulation, resulting in accelerated cell cycle progression, a G2/M block which culminates in apoptosis induction in the malignant cells. This implies that the role of IL-10 as an autocrine growth factor in malignant B-1 cells lies in its ability to inhibit apoptosis induction through the maintenance of sustainable cell cycle progression in malignant cells.