Interleukin-4 (IL-4) is one of the products of T-lymphocytes and mast cells, inflammatory cells which accumulate in connective tissues at early stages of fibrosis. We tested the effects of IL-4 on human fibroblasts from normal and scleroderma skin seeded in three dimensional collagen lattices ("dermal equivalents"). IL-4 (10 and 100 U/ml) stimulated collagen synthesis in a dose-dependent manner. No significant alteration of lattice retraction and cell proliferation was observed. At the concentration 100 U/ml, Il-4 was approximately twice more efficient on collagen synthesis than Transforming Growth Factor beta (10 ng/ml). IL-4 secretion in connective tissues might be an important factor for the development of fibrotic processes.