Effects of soluble recombinant human type I interleukin-1 receptor (sIL-1RI) were evaluated in 18 volunteers given intravenous endotoxin and randomized to placebo (n = 6), low-dose (n = 6), or high-dose (n = 6) sIL-1RI. Soluble IL-1RI decreased IL-1 beta (P = .001), but decreased IL-1ra (P = .0001), and resulted in 10-fold and 43-fold dose-related increases in sIL-1RI-IL-1ra complexes compared with placebo (P < or = .001). High-dose sIL-1RI was associated with increased levels of immunoactive tumor necrosis factor-alpha (P = .02), IL-8 (P = .0001), and cell-associated IL-1 beta (P = .047). C-reactive protein levels were higher after sIL-1RI than placebo (P = .035). Soluble IL-1RI decreased the severity of chills (P = .03), but did not alter other symptoms, changes in temperature, systemic hemodynamic responses, or changes in leukocyte and platelet number. Thus, sIL-1RI had no discernable antiinflammatory effect following endotoxin administration due in part to low levels of circulating IL-1 beta and neutralization of IL-1ra inhibitory function. This latter interaction represents an indirect mechanism of agonist activity elicited by sIL-1RI and may contribute to increases in inflammatory mediators, limiting therapy with sIL-1RI during endotoxemia.