The elucidation of the molecular mechanisms by which the embryo contributes to its implantation is an area of extensive research. The main objective of this study was to investigate the pattern of leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) secretion by human endometrial epithelium, and their regulation by human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and other growth factors present at the embryonic-endometrial interface. Endometrial epithelial cells (EEC) were isolated from biopsies collected at both proliferative and secretory phases of fertile women. HCG (1-50 IU/ml) increased LIF secretion by EEC cultures derived from follicular phase (up to 285+/-75%) or from secretory phase (up to 212+/-16%). In contrast, hCG reduced IL-6 secretion by EEC in both phases. The hCG/LH receptor gene was transcribed by EEC as evidenced by RT-PCR. Insulin-like growth factors 1 and 2 increased LIF secretion by EEC. Transforming growth factor beta1 stimulated LIF and reduced IL-6 secretion. Through hCG, the blastocyst may be involved in the control of its implantation (via an increase of proimplantatory LIF) and tolerance (via an inhibition of proinflammatory IL-6). Other growth factors present at the embryonic-endometrial interface are also involved in the control of LIF and IL-6 endometrial secretion.