Interleukin 5 (IL-5) is the main factor that promotes the terminal differentiation of eosinophil progenitors (as indicated by colony formation assays), and enhances the effector capacity of mature eosinophils. IL-5 is produced by T lymphocytes, CD4-/CD8- and mast cells and recently, messenger (m)RNA of this cytokine has been identified in eosinophils from patients with coeliac disease, asthma, or eosinophilic heart diseases. In this study, IL-5 mRNA and immunoreactive IL-5 protein were detected in tissue and blood eosinophils from patients with eosinophilic cystitis or hypereosinophilic syndromes but not in Crohn's disease. By electron microscopy associated to immunogold staining, immunoreactive IL-5 was identified in eosinophilic granules. After stimulation with IgA-, IgE-, or IgG-immune complexes, blood eosinophils were shown, by immunocytochemistry and by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, to secrete IL-5. These observations demonstrate that eosinophils, under physiological stimulation, can release significant amounts of IL-5, which may contribute to local eosinophil recruitment and activation.