The hepatic production of the acute phase proteins in response to inflammatory cytokines, and the interaction of corticosteroids within this response, has been the subject of considerable recent research. In this study we have examined the effects of the corticosteroid prednisolone on the production of IL-1 alpha and IL-1 beta by lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated monocytes, and the ability of the monocyte conditioned media (MOCM) obtained under these conditions to induce human hepatoma HepG2 cells to produce serum amyloid A (SAA) and C-reactive protein (CRP). We also examined the production of SAA and CRP by HepG2 cells exposed to different combinations and concentrations of recombinant human (rh) IL-1 alpha, rhIL-1 beta, rhIL-6, recombinant human tumour necrosis factor-alpha (rhTNF-alpha) and prednisolone. The findings indicate: (i) prednisolone substantially inhibits the production of both IL-1 alpha and IL-1 beta by LPS-stimulated monocytes. The MOCM from prednisolone-treated monocytes induced less SAA and CRP production by HepG2 cells; (ii) IL-1 alpha and IL-1 beta both induced CRP and SAA synthesis by HepG2 cells, but only in the presence of IL-6. IL-1 beta was the more potent inducer for SAA production, but for CRP production IL-1 alpha and IL-1 beta were equivalent; (iii) prednisolone enhances the production of SAA by HepG2 cells, but does not enhance the production of CRP; (iv) TNF-alpha in the presence or absence of IL-6 and/or prednisolone did not induce the production of SAA or CRP by HepG2 cells. These findings offer a tenable solution to a disparate production of SAA compared with CRP in corticosteroid-treated cystic fibrosis (CF) patients.