Inflammatory cytokine production in men was examined after intraurethral challenge of volunteers with Neisseria gonorrhoeae MS11mkA or MS11mkC. Increased interleukin (IL)-8, IL-6, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) were detected in urine before the onset of symptoms and peaked simultaneously with the detection of IL-1 beta at the onset of symptoms. Urine cytokine levels returned to baseline or near baseline within 48 h after antibiotic therapy. In plasma, IL-8, TNF-alpha, IL-1 beta, and IL-6 were elevated at the onset of symptoms in 9, 5, 4, and 3 of 10 subjects, respectively, and returned to near normal within 48 h after treatment. IL-1 alpha and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor were not consistently detected in urine or plasma after challenge. Cytokine mRNA transcripts in peripheral blood mononuclear cells were not altered by the infection. The findings suggest that IL-8, IL-6, and possibly TNF-alpha were produced at the local site of infection, whereas IL-1 beta was derived from infiltrating leukocytes.