The role of IL-4 in the cellular interactions leading to the induction of CTL tolerance to H-2b alloantigens and to the development of a lupus-like autoimmune disease in BALB/c mice after neonatal injection with (C57BL/6 x BALB/c)F1 cells was investigated in vivo by using an anti-IL-4 mAb. Treatment of F1 cell-injected BALB/c mice with 15 mg of anti-IL-4 mAb was shown to interfere with tolerance induction, as assessed by the high percentages of H-2b target cell lysis and the very low or undetectable levels of B cell chimerism markers observed in these mice. Treatment with 4.5 mg of anti-IL-4 mAb interfered with tolerance induction only in one-third of F1 cell-injected BALB/c mice, but that dose induces specific modulations of the autoimmune manifestations in all mice, leading to the nearly complete prevention of the disease. In particular, the production of anti-ssDNA IgG1 and of total IgG1 and IgE antibodies was seriously affected by the treatment, as well as the proliferation and membrane Ia and K expression of F1 donor splenic cells and thymic APC. Treatment of F1 cell-injected BALB/c mice between 24 and 48 h of life with 0.5 mg of anti-IL-4 mAb did not interfere with tolerance induction, but had similar effects on the autoimmune syndrome as treatment with 4.5 mg. These results suggest that, after F1 cell injection of newborn mice, IL-4 plays an important role in the cellular interactions leading to the induction of tolerance to the corresponding alloantigens and to the development of the associated autoimmune syndrome.