The idiopathic inflammatory myopathies (IIM), including dermatomyositis (DM), polymyositis (PM), and inclusion body myositis (IBM), are regarded as autoimmune diseases. They are characterized by chronic lymphocytic and macrophagic infiltration in muscle tissue. Of particular importance in understanding the immune response to IIM is the specific pattern of locally produced cytokines. Frozen muscle tissues from IIM (5 DM, 3 PM, and 1 IBM) were used to investigate the cytokine responses. The RT-PCR technique was instrumental to determine the pattern of expression of pro-inflammatory (IL-1 beta, IL-6, TNF-alpha), Th1 (IFN-gamma IL-2), and Th2 (IL-4) cytokines. Immunohistochemistry was also used to localize morphologically IFN-gamma and IL-4. Our results show that pro-inflammatory cytokines and Th1 cytokines are mainly expressed in IIM. The accumulation of mononuclear inflammatory cells and the inflammatory syndrome in IIM are probably related in part to the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Moreover, the pattern of local cytokine expression is consistent with a Th1 immune response related to autoimmune diseases.