IL-10 is a regulatory cytokine known to inhibit allergic and inflammatory events. Mast cells (MC) are effector cells which when stimulated release histamine, chemokines and cytokines that initiate the allergic inflammatory response. Recent studies have shown that IL-10 regulates MC function by affecting cytokine production and expression of FcvarepsilonR1 in in vitro assays. Using IL-10 knockout (IL10KO) mice, we examined the effect of its absence on MC susceptibility to degranulation by the basic secretagogue, Compound 48/80 (C48/80). C48/80 is a receptor mimetic that directly activates G proteins and stimulates vigorous MC degranulation. For these studies we stimulated conjunctival MC with C48/80 and found that conjunctival MC of IL10KO mice exhibit increased degranulation compared with wild type mice. Reconstitution of IL10KO mice by adding rIL-10 24h prior to challenge with C48/80 conferred increased resistance of MC to the degranulatory effects of C48/80. The protective effect therefore appears to be due to the presence of IL-10. This is the first in vivo rodent study which reports a novel role of IL-10 in stabilizing mast cells from degranulation by a secretagogue, by as of yet an unknown mechanism.