Lipoxins display both stimulatory and inhibitory actions with leucocytes that are cell-type dependent. We tested whether lipoxin A4 (LXA4) and its stable synthetic analogue 16-phenoxy-17-18,19,20-tetranor-lipoxin-A4 (16-phe-LXA4) modulated the ability of human blood monocytes (MO) to express mRNA and proteins for interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta), IL-6 and IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) in vitro and compared their actions with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and leukotriene B4 (LTB4). 16-phe-LXA4, LPS and LTB4, but not LXA4, induced gene expression of IL-1beta in MO. IL-1beta protein synthesis increased by LPS (1500-fold), LTB4 (280-fold) and 16-phe-LXA4 (30-fold). Although the IL-1Ra gene was constitutively activated, mRNA concentration not affected by any of the stimulants, IL-Ra protein synthesis was increased by LPS (with 74%), 16-phe-LXA4 (35%) and LTB4 (20%), but not by LXA4. Each of these stimuli upregulated the IL-6 gene. Increases of IL-6 protein were 3000-fold for LPS, threefold for 16-phe-LXA4, eightfold for LXA(4 and) twofold for LTB4. Prior exposure of MO to 16-phe-LXA4, but not LXA4, reduced LTB4 induced synthesis of IL-1beta with 66%, IL-6 with 20% and IL-1Ra with 29%. Thus, a stable LXA analogue, that resists rapid inactivation by monocytes, displays novel actions in cytokine generation, intimately involved in the regulation of inflammation.