Interleukin-6 (IL-6) has been shown to inhibit growth and induce differentiation of several myeloid leukemia cell lines. In this work, two in vivo models of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in mice have been used to test the therapeutic potential of recombinant human IL-6. In mice inoculated by a transplantable AML tumor, IL-6 injections inhibited the development of leukemia and increased survival. The effect was related to dose and length of treatment. In a model of radiation-induced leukemogenesis in SJL/J mice, administration of low- dose IL-6 for 10 days, 4 months after irradiation, reduced the incidence of leukemia observed during 1 year, whereas granulocyte- macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) increased the incidence of leukemia. In vitro liquid cultures of leukemic blood cells obtained from AML patients showed that IL-6 slowed growth and decreased the proportion of blasts with an increase in more mature myeloid elements in 72% of M1, M2, M4 AML cases. In contrast, GM-CSF less often produced differentiation but stimulated leukemic cell growth in liquid cultures, without synergism by IL-6.