A role for the cytokines produced by tissue-infiltrated inflammatory cells (mainly T-lymphocytes and mast cells) in the pathophysiology of fibrosis has been suggested by several groups. Among the products of these cells, interleukin-4 (IL-4) might be one of the factors involved in the initiation of the fibrotic process. We studied the effects of recombinant human IL-4 on human fibroblast monolayer cultures. IL-4 (10 and 100 U/ml) induced a dose-dependent increase of collagen production. Non-collagen protein synthesis was not significantly altered. A concomitant increase of pro-alpha 1(I) collagen mRNAs was observed, showing that IL-4 acts at a pre-translational level.