Interleukin 1 (IL-1) is postulated to function in maintaining homeostasis, however, over-action of this cytokine may lead to disruption of homeostasis due to it's wide spectrum of activities. To understand the endogenous regulation of this cytokine, we examined the existence of IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) in tissues from healthy rabbits. IL-1Ra was constitutively produced in all tissues examined (lung, liver, spleen, thymus, caecum, skin, kidney, heart, and brain), as estimated by ELISA. Immunoprecipitation, RT-PCR and immunohistochemical studies indicated that all tissues produced secreted form of IL-1Ra (sIL-1Ra), whereas thymus, caecum, skin and kidney produced both sIL-1Ra and intracellular of IL-1Ra. All tissue IL-1Ra purified using anti-IL-1Ra IgG affinity chromatography had inhibitory activity on the IL-1-induced thymocyte proliferative response, and the activity was totally abolished by anti-IL-1Ra mAb. No IL-1 activity was detected in any tissues except skin and heart, however, after preincubation of the samples with anti-IL-1Ra, the activity was first visible in the tissues. Under these conditions, IL-1 activity in skin and heart was enhanced to 170% and 280%, respectively. Taken together, we conclude that tissue IL-1Ra is involved in health maintenance by masking co-existing IL-1 activity present in tissues.