Interleukin-18 (IL-18)/interferon-gamma-inducing factor (IGIF) is a novel cytokine, which is a potent inducer of IFN-gamma production and plays an important role in Th1 responses. In order to develop a specific ELISA for the measurement of human IL-18, we established 13 anti-human IL-18 monoclonal antibodies and characterized them. 7 murine anti-human IL-18 mAbs and 6 rat anti-human IL-18 mAbs were obtained by fusion of splenocytes from mice or rats immunized with human IL-18, with SP2/0 myeloma cells. These antibodies were classified into 4 groups according to competitive binding ELISAs to the human IL-18 molecule. 1 murine mAb and all 6 rat mAbs neutralized IFN-gamma production induced by IL-18. A specific human IL-18 ELISA was developed using two neutralizing mAbs (#125-2H and #159-12B). This ELISA detects human IL-18 with a minimum detection limit of 10 pg/ml, but does not react with heat-denatured human IL-18. The ELISA does not show any cross-reactivity with other cytokines. Using this assay, human IL-18 was measurable in the plasma of leukemia patients. This ELISA would become a powerful tool for investigating the relationship between IL-18 and various diseases or analyzing the control mechanisms of IL-18 production from IL-18 producing cells.