To identify the cytokines that play a relevant role in the pathogenesis of IgA nephropathy, we analyzed and compared the gene expression of proinflammatory cytokines, immuno-regulatory cytokines, and growth factors in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). Expression of IL-1 alpha, IL-1 beta, IL-2, IL-4, IL-6, IL-10, IL-12, IFN-gamma, TGF-beta, TNF-alpha, and PDGF was examined in 28 patients with IgA nephropathy (IgAN), 20 patients with non-IgA mesangial proliferative glomerulonephritis (mesPGN), and 19 healthy controls. Compared with healthy controls, a significant number of IgAN and mesPGN patients showed increased expression of IL-1 beta, IL-4, IL-10, IL-12, and IFN-gamma. The cytokine profile of renal tissue of 10 IgAN and 5 mesPGN biopsies was simultaneously analyzed and compared with that of PBMC. The proinflammatory IL-1 alpha and growth factor PDGF-B were expressed more in renal tissues than in PBMC. Furthermore, the renal profile of IL-alpha, IFN-gamma, and TNF-alpha expression was associated with the expression of IFN-gamma in PBMC. The serum level of IFN-gamma of IgAN correlated significantly (P = 0.0003) with that of IL-12, suggesting a potential role for cross-stimulation. More importantly, expression of IFN-gamma in PBMC and the elevated serum level correlated with the decline in glomerular filtration rate (P = 0.0012) and severity of renal histopathologic grade. To elucidate the role of leukocytes in renal cytokine expression, surface markers of T cells (CD3), monocytes (CD14), natural killer cells (CD16), and B cells (CD19) were also examined in renal tissues. The prominent renal expression of CD3, CD14, and CD16 implicates the leukocytes as the major source of proinflammatory cytokines in IgAN. Collectively, these findings indicate that IFN-gamma plays a prominent role in an interactive network of cytokines that contribute to the pathogenesis and progression of IgA nephropathy.