IgE production by normal peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) is known to be triggered upon stimulation by interleukin (IL)-4. In the present study we showed that IL-9, another T cell-derived cytokine, markedly potentiated IgE production induced by suboptimal doses of IL-4, whereas no effect of IL-9 was observed in the absence of IL-4. The potentiating effect of IL-9 appeared to be associated with the increased frequency of IgE-producing cells, as revealed by a specific ELISA-spot assay. Under the same experimental conditions, IL-9 also enhanced the IL-4-induced IgG production but did not elicit IgM production. However, IL-9 did not amplify the IL-4-dependent expression of membrane-bound and soluble low affinity receptor for IgE (CD23). IL-4-induced IgE production was also potentiated by IL-6 but not by tumor necrosis factor-alpha and IL-1 beta. The possibility that the activity of IL-9 was mediated by IL-6 released from accessory cells was excluded by the observations that monocyte depletion did not abolish the effect of IL-9 and that IL-9 was still active on fluorescence-assisted cell sorted CD20+ B lymphocytes co-cultured with irradiated murine EL4 cells. In addition, IL-9 was shown to potentiate the IL-4-induced IgG and IgM production by normal human B lymphocytes preactivated with Staphylococcus aureus Cowan strain. Taken together, these data suggest that IL-9 plays a regulatory role in the IL-4-dependent immunoglobulin production.