Interleukin 1 (IL-1) possesses as an intercellular signal a wide spectrum of inflammatory, metabolic, haematopoetic, immunological, and reparative properties and can be a mediator not only of host defence but also of disease. Reduction of IL-1 can decrease the inflammatory host response. A human recombinant IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1ra) was used to block IL-1 after intraocular lens implantation in rabbits. Seventeen rabbits underwent intercapsular phacoemulsification and posterior chamber lens implantation. A 100 micrograms dose (0.1 ml) of IL-1ra (1 mg/ml) was injected into the anterior chamber at the end of surgery in seven rabbits. The 10 rabbits serving as the controls received no IL-1ra. Postoperatively, all rabbits were observed with a slit-lamp, and the aqueous flare intensity was measured with a laser flare cell meter at 12 hours, 1, 2, 3, and 4 days and thereafter at 1, 2, 3, and 4 weeks. Aqueous flare intensity was significantly lower on days 2 and 3, and fibrin deposition much less marked in the eyes treated with IL-1ra, compared with the controls. The results suggest that IL-1 is involved in the postoperative inflammation that occurs after intraocular lens implantation and the use of the IL-1ra would be valuable for reducing this problem.