We report here the presence of very high serum levels of the soluble interleukin-2 receptor (sIL-2R) in patients with blood hypereosinophilia with or without detectable markers of malignancy or signs of visceral involvement. The highest sIL-2R levels were observed in 16 eosinophilic patients with T-cell lymphoma (3,440 to 79,500 U/mL). Elevated levels of sIL-2R were also present (1,330 to 22,500 U/mL) in sera from 38 patients with the hypereosinophilic syndrome (HES) without detectable T-cell lymphoma. In this group of patients, the highest levels were noted in the patients with the malignant form of HES. Significantly lower levels were measured in sera of patients with hypereosinophilia associated with parasitic diseases, allergic disorders, or other miscellaneous diseases. Elevated serum sIL-2R levels were not closely paralleled by changes in the number of CD25-positive peripheral blood mononuclear cells as assessed by flow cytometric analysis. However, expression of IL-2R messenger RNA was detected in blood mononuclear cells collected from HES patients. In eight eosinophilic patients with T-cell lymphoma, the serum sIL-2R levels were significantly correlated with the eosinophil counts, and with the total number of blood hypodense eosinophils. alpha-Interferon (alpha-IFN) therapy resulted in both a dramatic clinical improvement and a rapid decrease in sIL-2R levels and blood hypereosinophilia. Similar beneficial effects of alpha-IFN were noted in patients with malignant HES who lacked a detectable T-cell lymphoma. Our data indicate that HES is associated with elevated serum IL-2R levels. The highest levels were observed in the most severe forms of HES with hematologic markers of malignancy or evident visceral involvement. Serum levels of sIL-2R might represent a useful indicator for the management of HES patients. In addition, the respective changes of sIL-2R and blood eosinophilia might reflect distinct processes of mononuclear cell activation affecting the eosinophil lineage.