Interleukin-6 (IL-6) and interleukin-11 (IL-11) are known to influence osteoclast formation and bone resorption. In order to determine whether IL-6 and IL-11 could independently support human osteoclast formation, these factors were added to cultures of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells of the monocyte (CD14(+)) fraction in the presence of macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF). Under these conditions, IL-6 and IL-11 induced the formation of multinucleated cells which were positive for TRAP, VNR, and calcitonin receptor and capable of lacunar resorption. Osteoclastogenesis induced by IL-6 and IL-11 was inhibited by the addition of an anti-gp130 antibody but not by osteoprotegerin. These results indicate that IL-6 and IL-11, which are thought to play a role in several osteolytic bone disorders, are directly capable of inducing osteoclast formation by a RANKL-independent mechanism.