Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease resulting from dysregulation of the immune system. Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is a multifunctional cytokine produced by macrophages, monocytes and T and B cells. It stimulates B-cell differentiation/maturation, immunoglobulin secretion, and T-cell functions. Elevated levels of IL-6 in serum, urine and renal glomeruli were detected in patients with active SLE and in murine models of SLE. Our study investigated the role of IL-6 in an SLE-like disease in New Zealand Black/White (NZB/W) F1 mice by administration of an anti-murine IL-6 monoclonal antibody (mAb). Intraperitoneal administration of the anti-IL-6 mAb suppressed the production of anti-dsDNA autoantibody. B-cell proliferation induced by anti-IgM and anti-CD40 was lower in the anti-IL-6 mAb-treated mice, ex vivo studies demonstrated that anti-IL-6 mAb treatment inhibited anti-dsDNA production. Anti-CD3-induced T-cell proliferation and mixed lymphocyte reactions were inhibited by anti-IL-6 mAb treatment, indicating a partial down-regulation of T cells. Histological analysis showed that treatment with anti-IL-6 mAb prevented the development of severe kidney disease. These results suggest that treatment with anti-IL-6 mAb has a beneficial effect on autoimmunity in murine SLE and that autoreactive B cells may be the primary target for anti-IL-6 mAb treatment; its effect on autoreactive T cells is also indicated.