Recombinant adenoviruses can be used for in vivo gene transfer with great efficiency. However, the duration of transgene expression and the possibility of readministering the virus are severely limited by the host anti-adenovirus immune response, which is controlled mainly by cytokine networks. Adenoviruses encoding IL-4 (AdIL-4) or IL-10 (AdIL-10) were administered to rats through the portal vein and the anti-adenovirus immune response was studied. As compared with administering adenoviruses without transgene (Addl324) or with the lacZ gene (AdlacZ), AdIL-4, but not AdIL-10, resulted in a significant increase in leukocytes in the liver, with a predominance of macrophages that peaked on days 7 and 14 after gene transfer and gradually returned to normal by day 28. AdIL-4 induced a significant increase in both neutralizing and ELISA-detected anti-adenovirus antibodies, whereas AdIL-10 caused an increase in ELISA-detected antibodies alone. Anti-adenovirus antibodies were predominantly of Th1-dependent immunoglobulin subclasses in rats receiving Addl324, AdlacZ, or AdIL-10, whereas animals receiving AdIL-4 showed a predominance of Th2-dependent immunoglobulin subclasses. Type 1 (IFN-gamma) and type 2 (IL-5) cytokines were increased only in livers from rats receiving AdIL-4. Rats receiving AdIL-4 showed increased anti-adenovirus cytotoxic T lymphocyte activity and CD8+ cell depletion prevented leukocyte infiltration in the liver. These results show that IL-4 increases local and systemic immune responses against recombinant adenoviruses.