Several studies have shown that human eosinophils can synthesize and release a number of cytokines. The aim of this study was to investigate whether eosinophils contain interleukin (IL)-4 protein. We examined the ultrastructural localization of IL-4 in eosinophils in bronchial mucosal biopsies of 29 nonsmoking atopic asthmatics and 7 controls. No eosinophils were detected in the bronchial mucosa of controls. In the eosinophils (n = 42) of the asthmatics, IL-4 was localized to the electron-dense crystalloid core compartment of 85% of the secondary or specific eosinophil granules (n = 468). Other structures in the eosinophils were unlabeled. Control sections, incubated with an irrelevant primary antibody, were negative. This study demonstrates that pre-formed IL-4 is stored in the secondary eosinophil granules. These results were extended by light microscopic immunodouble-staining for IL-4 protein and eosinophil cationic protein, which showed that a subpopulation of activated eosinophils express IL-4 immunoreactivity in bronchial mucosal biopsies of asthmatics as well as controls. These data indicate that eosinophils may be an important source of IL-4 in allergic inflammation.