A chimeric toxin has been constructed by fusion of a gene encoding human interleukin 4 (hIL4) to a gene encoding a mutant form of Pseudomonas exotoxin A (PE) which cannot bind to its receptors (PE4E). The chimeric gene was expressed in Escherichia coli where large amounts of the chimeric toxin, hIL4-PE4E, was produced. Purified hIL4-PE4E was very cytotoxic to cancer cell lines of both hematopoietic and solid tumor origin. In the HUT 102 T cell leukemia and Daudi B cell lymphoma cell lines, protein synthesis was inhibited by 50% (ID50) at a hIL4-PE4E concentration of 2 and 7 ng/ml (25 and 86 pM, respectively). hIL4-PE4E was also very cytotoxic to cell lines derived from carcinomas of the colon, breast, stomach, liver, adrenals, and prostate, as well as melanoma and epidermoid carcinoma, indicating that hIL4 receptors are widely expressed on human malignancies. We also found that human phytohemagglutinin-activated peripheral blood lymphocytes were extremely sensitive to hIL4-PE4E with an ID50 of 0.2 ng/ml (2.5 pM). The cytotoxic action of hIL4-PE4E was specific because it was blocked by an excess of hIL4 and not of human interleukin 2. In addition, hIL4-PE4ED553, an enzymatically inactive form of the chimeric toxin, was not cytotoxic. These results suggest that the hIL4 receptor may be a target for therapy in malignant and immunologic disorders using hIL4 chimeric toxin.