Endothelin (ET) produced by endothelial cells has recently been found to be a potent vasoconstricting hormone. In this report, ET is shown to be a potent stimulator of interleukin-6 (IL-6) production by rat bone marrow (BM)-derived stromal cells. It was also shown that ET increased the level of mRNA for IL-6 in these cells. The two types of ET receptor (R), ETAR and ETBR, were shown to be expressed on both BM-derived stromal cells in culture and ex vivo in BM tissue, suggesting that ET works as a physiologic stimulator of IL-6 production in the BM. It was shown that ETAR is coupled to phospholipase C activation, leading to the production of inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3) and 1,2- diacylglycerol (DAG) as second messengers in BM-derived stromal cells. This was corroborated by data showing that IL-6 production in these cells was induced by combined stimulation with ionomycin and phorbol myristate acetate, thereby bypassing the effects of IP3 and DAG, respectively. This is the first report on the hormonal regulation of IL- 6 production by BM stromal cells, indicating that hematopoiesis is subject to endocrinologic regulation under physiologic conditions. ET has recently been reported to be produced by macrophages in response to bacterial lipopolysaccharide and human immunodeficiency virus-1 glycoprotein 120. These facts, taken together with our findings, raise the possibility that ET shares the same role of IL-1 as a local cytokine, mediating an intercellular signal between macrophages and BM stromal cells in response to bacterial or viral stimulation.