Recombinant interleukin 1 alpha (rIL-1 alpha) augmented proliferation of freshly isolated myeloma cells as well as B-cell stimulatory factor 2 (BSF-2)/interleukin-6 (IL-6). Recombinant IL-1 alpha-induced proliferation was partially inhibited by anti-IL-6 antibody. In the culture supernatants of rIL-1 alpha-stimulated myeloma cells, IL-6 activities, which were measured by using an IL-6-dependent murine hybridoma clone, MH60.BSF2, were increased, when compared with those in the culture supernatants of nonstimulated myeloma cells. Furthermore, IL-6 messenger RNA (mRNA) expression was also augmented in IL-1 alpha- stimulated myeloma cells. Therefore rIL-1 alpha stimulates myeloma cells to produce IL-6, which consequently augments proliferation of myeloma cells. Thus, IL-1 can accelerate autocrine growth of myeloma cells through IL-6.