The effects of recombinant IFN-alpha on the production of IL-5 by human CD4+ T cells were first analyzed on resting CD4+ T cells purified from normal PBMC and stimulated either with a combination of PMA and anti-CD28 mAb or anti-CD3 mAb cross-linked on B7-1/CD32-transfected mouse fibroblasts. We found that IFN-alpha profoundly inhibited in a dose-dependent manner IL-5 production by resting CD4+ T cells whereas IL-10 was upregulated in both systems. The addition of a neutralizing anti-IL-10 mAb to PMA and anti-CD28 mAb upregulated IL-5 production by resting CD4+ T cells but did not prevent IFN-alpha-induced IL-5 inhibition. We then analyzed the effect of IFN-alpha on the production of cytokines by differentiated type 2 helper (Th2) CD4+CD3- cells isolated from peripheral blood of two patients with the hypereosinophilic syndrome. In both cases, IFN-alpha markedly inhibited IL-5 production while it induced mild upregulation of IL-4 and IL-10. Finally, the inhibitory effect of IFN-alpha on IL-5 production was confirmed on a panel of Th2 and Th0 clones generated in vitro. In 2 out of 6 clones, IL-5 inhibition was associated with upregulation of IL-4 and IL-10. We conclude that IFN-alpha selectively downregulates IL-5 synthesis by human CD4+ T cells.