Interleukin (IL)4 has been shown to regulate the IgG subclasses and induce IgE production in splenic mouse B cells. Here we show that IL4 and phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) induce, on a per cell basis, very high IgE secretion in purified human B cells by using a mouse thymoma (EL4) co-culture method. In addition, a marked increase in the number of IgG4-producing cells was also observed. Furthermore, IL2 could synergize with IL4 and PMA in the production of IgE. By using limiting dilution analysis, a considerable increase in the precursor frequency for IgE was found when IL4 and PMA were added to cultures as compared to cultures with PMA only. This indicates that IL4 induces an isotype switch in human B cells.