The effect of interleukin 8 (IL-8) on IL-4-induced immunoglobulin E (IgE) production was studied. IL-4 induced IgE and IgG4 production by tonsillar mononuclear cells (MNC) without affecting IgM, IgG1, IgA, IgG2, or IgG3 production. IL-8 inhibited IL-4-induced IgE and IgG4 production, whereas it had no effect on IgM, IgG1, IgA, IgG2, and IgG3 production. The inhibitory effect by IL-8 was specific, since it was blocked by anti-IL-8 mAb, but not by control IgG1. Although interferon gamma (IFN-gamma) also inhibited IgE and IgG4 production by MNC stimulated with IL-4, the inhibitory effect of IL-8 was not mediated by IFN-gamma, since the IL-8-induced inhibition could not be blocked by anti-IFN-gamma. Furthermore, anti-IL-8 mAb had no effect on IFN-gamma-induced inhibition. Moreover, addition of IL-5 or IL-6 did not reverse IL-8-induced inhibition of IgE production. In contrast to these observations with MNC, IL-4 failed to induce IgE and IgG4 production by purified B cells. However, combined treatment of purified B cells cells with IL-4 and anti-CD40 antibody resulted in IgE but not IgG4 production. IL-8 inhibited this IgE production without affecting IgM, IgG1, IgG2, IgG3, IgG4, or IgA production, whereas IFN-gamma, IFN-alpha, or prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) failed to do so. These results indicate that IL-8 antagonizes IL-4-induced IgE production by directly affecting B cells through a specific mechanism that is different from IFN-gamma, IFN-alpha, or PGE2.