Monocytes can express three classes of FcR for IgG: Fc gamma RI, Fc gamma RII, and Fc gamma RIII (CD64, CD32, and CD16, respectively) of which the Fc gamma RIII is expressed after prolonged culture. Fc gamma R expression is regulated by IFN-gamma. Because IFN-gamma and IL-4 have antagonistic effects on the expression of the FcR for IgE on human monocytes, we studied the effect of IL-4 on Fc gamma R expression and function. We show that IL-4 down-regulates Fc gamma RI, Fc gamma RII, and Fc gamma RIII expression of cultured monocytes and inhibits IFN-gamma enhanced Fc gamma RI expression. Exposure of monocytes to IL-4 for 40 h resulted in a dose-dependent decrease of the expression of all three Fc gamma R that persisted throughout the whole culture period (7 days). Anti-IL-4 antibodies completely reversed the IL-4 effect. In addition the impaired Fc gamma R expression correlated directly with reduced Fc gamma R-mediated function because monocytes cultured in the presence of IL-4 have a reduced capacity to lyse human E opsonized with human IgG anti-D or mouse antiglycophorin A antibodies. These observations, together with the previous finding that IL-4 induces Fc epsilon RIIb expression on monocytes, indicate that IL-4 and IFN-gamma may control the Fc gamma R-mediated immune response by differentially regulating Fc gamma R expression.