To investigate whether Brugia malayi-induced lymphatic inflammation is due to production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, we determined the lymph and serum levels of interleukin (IL)-1, IL-6, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha and granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) using enzyme immunoassays. Serum from normal and infected mice did not show elevated cytokine concentrations. Samples of lymph from parasitized lymphatics had significantly increased levels of IL-1 (range = 6-1620 pg/ml), IL-6 (19-17,800 pg/ml), TNF-alpha (19-2000 pg/ml) and GM-CSF (4-275 pg/ml). The anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-4 (7-12 pg/ml) was in the normal range and no increase in interferon (INF)-gamma was detected in lymph samples. The data suggest that increased levels of mediators or cytokines localized in the lymphatics may be important contributors to massive lymphatic dilation and inflammation.