Interleukin-11 (IL-11) is a novel stroma-derived cytokine that acts on both hematopoietic progenitors and stromal cells. IL-11 was originally identified in a medium conditioned by the macaque bone marrow-derived stromal cell line PU-34 and cloned as a growth factor for the IL-6-dependent plasmacytoma cell line T1165. IL-11 stimulates T-cell dependent development of antibody-producing B cells and is synergistic with IL-3 to stimulate megakaryocyte colony formation. Adipogenesis inhibitory factor (AGIF) was cloned from the human bone marrow-derived stromal cell line KM-102. The AGIF cDNA sequence was revealed to be identical to that of the IL-11 cDNA. AGIF inhibits the process of adipogenesis of the bone marrow-derived preadipocyte cell line H-1/A. Other biological activities such as stimulation of stem-cell proliferation, erythropoiesis, lymphohematopoiesis and hepatic acute-phase response are also summarized. The human IL-11 gene consists of five exons and four introns, and was mapped on chromosome 19 at band 19q13.3-q13.4. A single class of high-affinity IL-11 receptor (IL-11R) of 151 kDa is present on 3T3-L1 preadipocytes. A protein-tyrosine kinase pathway may be involved in the initiation of the IL-11R-mediated signal transduction.