Forty-three human liver allograft biopsies and normal liver were directly analyzed for inflammatory and immunoregulatory cytokine gene expression by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). IL-5 gene expression was predominantly present in biopsies from liver allografts with histopathological evidence of acute rejection. IL-2 gene expression was rarely observed in rejecting allografts or allografts without evidence of rejection. In contrast, IL-4 message was readily detectable in the majority of liver allografts regardless of clinical status. The inflammatory mediators IL-1/9, TNF-a, and IL-6 were detected with similar frequency in rejecting allografts and allografts without evidence of rejection. These findings suggest that inflammatory and immunoregulatory cytokines are produced within the allograft. Moreover, IL-5 may play a role in the local mechanisms of liver allograft rejection.