IL-23 is regarded as a major pro-inflammatory mediator in autoimmune disease, a role which until recently was ascribed to its related cytokine IL-12. IL-23, an IL-12p40/p19 heterodimeric protein, binds to IL-12Rbeta1/IL-23R receptor complexes. Mice deficient for p19, p40 or IL-12Rbeta1 are resistant to experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis or collagen-induced arthritis. Paradoxically, however, IL-12Rbeta2- and IL-12p35-deficient mice show remarkable increases in disease susceptibility, suggesting divergent roles of IL-23 and IL-12 in modulating inflammatory processes. IL-23 induces IL-17, which mediates inflammation and tissue remodeling, but the role of IL-12 in this respect remains unidentified. We investigated the roles of exogenous (recombinant) and endogenous (macrophage-derived) IL-12 and IL-23, on IL-17-induction in human T-cells. IL-23 enhanced IL-17 secretion, as did IL-2, IL-15, IL-18 and IL-21. In contrast, IL-12 mediated specific inhibition of IL-17 production. These data support the role of IL-23 in inflammation through stimulating IL-17 production by T lymphocytes, and importantly indicate a novel regulatory function for IL-12 by specifically suppressing IL-17 secretion. These data therefore extend previous reports that had indicated unique functions for IL-23 and IL-12 due to distinct receptor expression and signal transduction complexes, and provide novel insights into the regulation of immunity, inflammation and immunopathology.