Interleukin 4 (IL-4), IL-10 and IL-13 are all known to modulate several proinflammatory functions in human monocytes. They have also previously been shown to down-regulate lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced tissue factor (TF) expression in isolated cultured monocytes. In this study we investigated the effect of these three cytokines on the induction of monocytic TF in a whole blood environment at three levels: mRNA quantitation, surface antigen expression and procoagulant activity. We showed that IL-10 attenuated LPS-induced monocyte TF expression and activity in whole blood in a concentration-dependent manner, both when added to the blood prior to LPS and, although to a lesser extent, when added up to 1 h subsequent to LPS challenge. Maximum inhibition occurred at 5 ng/ml of IL-10 when the cytokine was added before LPS. IL-4 and IL-13, however, did not exhibit any inhibitory effect in the whole blood environment, contrary to the reported findings in cell culture experiments. Our results confirm the potential of IL-10 as an anti-inflammatory, TF-preventing drug, whereas the effects of IL-4 and IL-13 on monocytes in whole blood seem more complex, and require further investigation.