We have examined serum interleukin 6 (IL-6) levels in 12 patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI). IL-6 levels became elevated in all patients, following the rise of serum creatine kinase (CK) activity. Peak IL-6 levels showed a good correlation with peak serum C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, while there was no direct relationship between peak IL-6 levels and peak CK activity. IL-6 mRNA was not detected in unstimulated "quiescent" rat cardiocytes cultured in serum-free medium, but its expression was induced by exposure of the cells to serum or ionomycin. These results show that IL-6 is synthesized in the myocardium and serum IL-6 levels become elevated in AMI, suggesting that IL-6 could affect the progression and/or healing processes of AMI.