IL-35 is a newly discovered inhibitory cytokine secreted by regulatory T cells (Tregs) and may have therapeutic potential in several inflammatory disorders. Acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD) is a major complication of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and caused by donor T cells and inflammatory cytokines. The role of IL-35 in aGVHD is still unknown. Here we demonstrate that IL-35 overexpression suppresses CD4(+) effector T-cell activation, leading to a reduction in alloreactive T-cell responses and aGVHD severity. It also leads to the expansion of CD4(+)Foxp3(+) Tregs in the aGVHD target organs. Furthermore, IL-35 overexpression results in a selective decrease in the frequency of Th1 cells and an increase of IL-10-producing CD4(+) T cells in aGVHD target tissues. Serum levels of TNF-α, IFN-γ, IL-6, IL-22 and IL-23 decrease and IL-10 increases in response to IL-35. Most importantly, IL-35 preserves graft-versus-leukemia effect. Finally, aGVHD grade 2-4 patients have decreased serum IL-35 levels comparing with time-matched patients with aGVHD grade 0-1. Our findings indicate that IL-35 has an important role in reducing aGVHD through promoting the expansion of Tregs and repressing Th1 responses, and should be investigated as the therapeutic strategy for aGVHD.