Thalidomide, a drug likely to affect the cytokine pattern, was administered orally to mice at various stages of CIA. Treatment (150 mg/kg per day by gavage, 5 days/week), started 6 weeks post-immunization, i.e. at the height of the disease, significantly reduced arthritis, and appeared also to reduce the level of inflammation as judged by neutrophil chemiluminescence. With treatment started 9 weeks post-immunization the effect on arthritis was no longer statistically significant, and when started at 14 weeks was lost. Over a dose range of up to 150 mg/kg per day the treatment had no effect on either interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) or IL-4 mRNA levels. The treatment is therefore not likely to have operated via a shift in the Th1/Th2 balance.