In cerebral malaria, pathological changes can be found in the brain of infected people and in the brain of Plasmodium berghei-infected mice. The pathogenesis of cerebral malaria in mice is believed to be due to an immunopathological reaction giving rise to an excessive production of cytokines such as interferon gamma (IFN-gamma) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF). We find that low doses of interleukin 1 (IL-1) protect mice against cerebral malaria; IL-1 also inhibits parasitemia. The IL-1 effect on parasitemia was not observed in nude mice and was at least partly reversed in mice treated with IL-1 in combination with antibody to IFN-gamma, indicating the involvement of T cells. Mice protected against development of cerebral malaria by IL-1 treatment developed the syndrome when TNF was given as observed in control infected mice or infected mice treated with inactivated IL-1.