We examined the production of interleukin-8 and interleukin-6 by 30 human carcinoma cell lines. Serum levels of interleukin-8 were measured in 14 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and Northern blotting. Furthermore, serum interleukin-8 was also investigated in a nude mouse bearing a tumor of the HuH7 hepatoma cell line producing interleukin-8. Of the 30 cell lines, 29 (96.7%) constitutively produced interleukin-8, and 19 of the 29 (65.5%) were high producers (> 1 ng/ml culture supernatant). Among the high producers, 4 cell lines released both interleukin-8 and interleukin-6. Interleukin-6 was constitutively produced by 17 of the 30 (56.7%) cell lines, 4 of which (23.5%) were high producers (> 1 ng/ml). By Northern blot analysis, mRNAs of interleukin-8 and interleukin-6 were detected in producing cell lines. Of 14 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma 4 (28.5%) showed increased levels of serum interleukin-8. Furthermore, inoculation of the HuH7 hepatoma cell line which produced the highest amount of interleukin-8 into a nude mouse resulted in tumor production accompanied by an elevated level of human interleukin-8 (646 pg/ml) in the peripheral blood. Thus, interleukin-8 is constitutively and commonly produced by various carcinoma cell lines. The production of interleukin-8 by carcinoma cells may be related to the elevation of serum interleukin-8 in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma. Finally, these cell lines may be valuable for studying the relationship between interleukin-8 and cancer.