Accumulating evidence suggests that in serum and other biological fluids, cytokine binding is a property associated with soluble proteins, including a high-affinity soluble version of the IL-4 receptor (sIL-4R). While it is tempting to speculate that sIL-4R might act as a serum carrier protein or serve to inhibit or modulate IL-4 action, specific biological roles for sIL-4R remain to be established. To further assess the immunoregulatory and therapeutic potential of sIL-4R and other soluble receptors, we have created transgenic mice which constitutively express elevated levels of biologically active sIL-4R. Phenotypic characterization of lymphoid organs in sIL-4R transgenic mice revealed normal numbers of B and T cells and normal surface marker expression. Splenic lymphocytes displayed normal in vitro activities as measured by the PFC response and generation of cytotoxic T cells. In addition, antigen-specific IgE and IgG1 in vivo responses were similar in control and transgenic mice. Despite the apparent developmental normality of the sIL-4R transgenic mice, these animals were markedly deficient in the ability to reject cardiac allografts, suggesting that IL-4 is critical for the generation of alloreactivity. The results further suggest that the ability of sIL-4R to regulate IL-4 activities may be under the control of complex interactions that remain to be elucidated.