We explored the ex vivo alteration in the cytokine release of stimulated blood taken from healthy volunteers treated subcutaneously with 480 micrograms granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF). In a double-blind, controlled, randomized study with 21 volunteers who received G-CSF once or twice 24 hours apart, we measured lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-inducible release of various cytokines and soluble receptors at different times after treatment. At day 1 after a single dose of G-CSF, mediator release was also initiated with muramyl dipeptide, Staphylococcus aureus enterotoxin A, lipoteichoic acid, streptolysin O, complement factor C5a, phytohemagglutinin, or phorbol myristate acetate. In blood from G-CSF-treated subjects, our major findings were (1) a maximal 12-fold increase in interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1ra) release and an increase of both the p55 and p75 soluble tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptors; (2) a reduction in TNF release when using all the various stimuli described except LPS; (3) an increase in G-CSF and, to lesser extent, in IL-6, IL-8, and IL-10 release; and (4) an attenuation of interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) and granulocyte-macrophage (GM)-CSF release. Our findings demonstrate that the major effect of G-CSF treatment is a change in the responsiveness of blood towards a variety of stimuli, which we interpret as a shift toward an antiinflammatory cytokine response.