Mice harboring mutations in the IL-4 gene (IL-4(-/-)) were infected with a range of Salmonella typhimurium HWSH derivatives using different routes of infection. Compared with IL-4(+/+) mice, IL-4(-/-) mice exhibited a delayed time to death following infection with wild-type S. typhimurium HWSH. Groups of IL-4(+/+) mice infected with S. typhimurium HWSH purE, a less virulent derivative, showed sporadic deaths and harbored micro- or macroabscesses in their tissues, particularly associated with the liver. However, IL-4(-/-) mice infected with similar doses of S. typhimurium HWSH purE bacteria were resistant to killing and failed to develop detectable abscesses. Abscess formation in IL-4(-/-) mice could be induced by i.v. administration of rIL-4 during the S. typhimurium HWSH purE infection. The immune response in both IL-4(-/-) and IL-4(+/+) mice was of the Th1-type. Viable salmonella bacteria could be found associated with abscesses. Both IL-4(-/-) and IL-4(+/+) mice were resistant to killing by S. typhimurium aroA.