Several authors have reported the in vitro production of colony- stimulating factors (CSF) and interleukin-1 (IL-1) by the neoplastic cells from patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Using a sensitive bioassay for IL-6, the capacity of the leukemic cells of 30 patients with AML to produce IL-6 was examined. IL-6 production was found to be specific for cells from patients with an AML with monocytic differentiation (12 of 15 M4 and M5 patients, 0 of 15 M1 and M2 patients). Moreover, IL-6 production was paralleled by IL-1 production. The IL-6- and IL-1-producing cells were mainly found in the more mature monocytic cell fractions, defined as CD14-positive and CD34-negative adherent cells. By limiting dilution experiments, it could be excluded that the production of IL-1 or IL-6 was due to contamination with normal monocytes.