Skeletal muscle is now recognized as an endocrine organ with the capacity to produce signal peptides in response to muscle contractions. Here we demonstrate that resting healthy human muscles express cytokines in a fiber type specific manner. Human muscle biopsies from seven healthy young males were obtained from m. triceps, m. quadriceps vastus lateralis and m. soleus. Type I fibers contributed (mean +/- SE) 24.0 +/- 2.5% in triceps of total fibers, 51.3 +/- 2.4% in vastus and 84.9 +/- 22% in soleus. As expected, differences in the fiber type composition were accompanied by marked differences between the three muscles with regard to MHC I and MHC IIa mRNA expression. Immunohistochemistry demonstrated that tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha and interleukin (IL)-18 were solely expressed by type II fibers, whereas the expression of IL-6 was more prominent in type I compared to type II fibers. The fiber type specificity was found in triceps, vastus and soleus indicating that the level of daily muscle activity did not influence basal cytokine expression. The specificity of cytokine expression in different muscle fiber types in healthy young males suggests that cytokines may play specific regulatory roles in normal physiology.