A second species of interleukin-4 (IL-4) mRNA was identified using both a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and an RNase protection assay. This novel IL-4 mRNA was 48 base pairs smaller than IL-4 mRNA, which is the size of IL-4 exon 2. Sequence data of cloned cDNA demonstrated that this variant contained IL-4 exons 1,3 and 4, with exon 1 spliced directly to exon 3 in an open reading frame. The entire protein encoding region of this variant, named IL-4 delta 2, was identical to IL-4 except for the omission of exon 2. IL-4 delta 2 mRNA was detected in all human peripheral blood mononuclear cells tested and in purified CD3+ T cells. Amounts of both IL-4 and IL-4 delta 2 mRNAs increased upon T cell activation, although IL-4 mRNA increased to a greater extent than IL-4 delta 2 mRNA did. Human IL-3, IL-5, IL-13, and granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor did not use alternative splicing to delete exon 2. We speculate that IL-4 delta 2 may regulate IL-4 function.