In the present paper we report that the ROHA -9 cell line, an Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-transformed human B cell line with accessory cell capabilities, constitutively secretes a soluble factor with the biochemical and biological characteristics of human monocyte-derived IL-1. The IL-1 derived from ROHA -9 augmented murine thymocyte proliferation and enhanced the proliferative response of human T lymphocytes to concanavalin A (Con A). The ROHA -9-derived IL-1 activity eluted from Sephacryl S-200 in two peaks, at 15- 18K and 32- 35K mol wt, eluted from DEAE-Sephacel at 50-80 and 110-130 mM NaCl, and showed charge heterogeneity with peaks at pI 7.3, 6.1, and 4.1 on isoelectrofocusing (IEF). These findings suggest that B cells may elaborate an IL-1-like activity. During the logarithmic growth of ROHA -9 cells, a inhibitory factor that inhibited the response of mouse thymocytes to IL-1 was also produced. This factor had a mol wt of 95K on Sephacryl S-200, eluted at 150 mM NaCl on DEAE-Sephacel and showed a peak of pI 4.7 on preparative IEF. The inhibitory factor appeared to be selective in its effects on IL-1 responses, since it did not inhibit the activity of IL-2 on mouse thymocytes or on the growth of the IL-2-dependent CT6 cell line. This "contra-IL-1" inhibited the response of murine thymocytes to suboptimal (1 microgram/ml) but not optimal (10 micrograms/ml) doses of Con A and the response of human peripheral blood lymphocytes to streptolysin O ( SLO ) or to alloantigens. Moreover, the factor could be absorbed by mouse thymocytes but not by CT6 cells, and such thymocytes pretreated with contra-IL-1 failed to response to IL-1. Although this inhibitor is the product of a transformed B cell line, it may be representative of regulatory substances that normally control IL-1 activities either at the extracellular or intracellular level.