We showed the dose-dependent growth inhibition by alltrans retinoic acid (ATRA) of myeloma cells freshly isolated from patients. ATRA downregulated the cell surface expression of interleukin-6 receptor (IL- 6R) and/or glycoprotein (gp) 130. The growth-inhibitory activity of ATRA was well correlated with that of anti-gp 130 antibody in every sample. Furthermore, ATRA inhibited the production of IL-6 from both myeloma cells and marrow stromal cells, and recombinant IL-6 (rIL-6) could partially recover the myeloma cell growth that had been inhibited by ATRA. These data suggest that ATRA may inhibit the proliferation of myeloma cells both by the downregulation of IL-6R and gp130 expression on myeloma cells and by the inhibition of IL-6 production from myeloma and stromal cells. Prednisolone (PSL) and interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) also inhibited the myeloma growth, while their effects were different from those of ATRA on IL-6 R and gp130 expression, IL-6 production, and morphological change. The inhibitory effect of ATRA on myeloma cell proliferation was observed in 10 of 14 samples obtained from eight patients, which suggests that ATRA may be a potent new therapeutic agent for some myeloma patients.