Experimental T-cell-mediated hepatitis induced by concanavalin A (Con A) involves the production of proinflammatory cytokines. Because interleukin (IL)-10 is a potent anti-inflammatory cytokine derived from macrophages and T cells and is produced within the liver, we investigated the role of IL-10 in modulating the hepatotoxicity and the secretion of cytokines following in vivo injection of Con A. IL-10 is produced early in the serum after Con A challenge. Neutralization of endogenous IL-10 by monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) increases the secretion of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) (+111%), interferon gamma (IFN-gamma) (+92%), and IL-12 (+730%) 8 hours after Con A injection, and increases the hepatotoxicity, assessed by serum alanine transaminase (ALT) (+174%) measurement and by histology, 24 hours after induction of hepatitis. Conversely, preadministration of recombinant IL-10 reduces the production of these proinflammatory cytokines (-47%, -80%, and -47% for TNF-alpha, IL-12, and IFN-gamma, respectively), and decreases neutrophil infiltration and ALT serum concentration (-74%) 8 hours after Con A challenge. We conclude that IL-10, either endogenously produced or exogenously added, has a hepatoprotective role in Con A-induced hepatitis, through its suppressive property on proinflammatory cytokine production, and that it might be of therapeutic relevance in human liver diseases involving activated T cells.