The availability of large quantities of highly purified recombinant interleukin 11 (rhuIL-11) has allowed us to investigate the effects of rhuIL-11 on sheep red blood cell (SRBC)-specific antibody responses in the murine system. The results showed that rhuIL-11 was effective in enhancing the generation of mouse spleen SRBC-specific plaque-forming cells (PFC) in the in vitro cell culture system in a dose-dependent manner. These effects of rhuIL-11 were abrogated completely by the addition of anti-rhuIL-11 antibody, but not by the addition of preimmunized rabbit serum. Cell-depletion studies revealed that L3T4 (CD4)+ T cells, but not Lyt-2 (CD8)+ T cells, are required in the rhuIL-11-stimulated augmentation of SRBC-specific antibody responses. The effects of rhuIL-11 on the SRBC-specific antibody responses in vivo were also examined. RhuIL-11 administration to normal C3H/HeJ mice resulted in a dose-dependent increase in the number of spleen SRBC-specific PFC as well as serum SRBC-specific antibody titer in both the primary and secondary immune responses. In mice immunosuppressed by cyclophosphamide treatment, rhuIL-11 administration significantly augmented the number of spleen SRBC-specific PFC as well as serum SRBC-specific antibody titer when compared with the cyclophosphamide-treated mice without IL-11 treatment. These results demonstrated that IL-11 is a novel cytokine involved in modulating antigen-specific antibody responses in vitro as well as in vivo.