Murine plasmacytomas show a striking dependence on interleukin 6 (IL-6) for their growth in vitro. Here, we present evidence suggesting that IL-6 also plays an essential role in the in vivo development of these tumors. This conclusion is based on the finding that the tumorigenicity of an IL-6-dependent plasmacytoma cell line was increased approximately 100-fold on transfection with an IL-6 expression vector, whereas it was inhibited in animals treated with monoclonal antibodies capable of blocking the binding of IL-6 to its receptor. Injection of these antibodies 1 d before tumor challenge protected greater than 50% of the mice and retarded tumor growth in all animals. Tumors arising in antibody-treated mice retained their IL-6 dependence in vitro, suggesting that the level of protection could be improved if stronger IL-6 antagonists were available.