Two IL-6-dependent human multiple myeloma cell lines, ILKM2 and ILKM3, were established from the bone marrow of patients with IgG-K multiple myeloma. Both cell lines had the typical morphology and immunocytochemical features of myeloma cells. The surface phenotype of both cell lines was PCA-1+, OKT10+, CD10(J-5)-, CD19(B4)-, CD20(B1)-, CD21(B2)-, and OKIa-1-. A monoclonal cytoplasmic Ig, IgG-K or K L chain, was positive in ILKM2 or ILKM3, respectively. EBV nuclear antigen was negative in both cell lines. They proliferated in the presence of macrophages or macrophage-derived factors (MDF). Among the recombinant cytokines examined, IL-6 most strongly augmented the growth of both cell lines. The anti-IL-6 antibody completely inhibited the IL-6-dependent growth and almost completely inhibited the MDF- or purified MDF-dependent growth of both cell lines, ILKM2 and ILKM3 are now being maintained in the culture medium containing 2 ng/ml rIL-6. These results suggest that IL-6 produced by macrophages may play an important role in the growth of myeloma cells in vivo and that macrophages or IL-6 can be used for establishing human myeloma cell lines.