Indirect evidence suggests a link between factors produced during the inflammatory response and stunted growth. The demonstration of this link was provided by the observation that mice transgenic for the inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6), expressing high circulating levels of IL-6 since birth, show a marked decrease in growth rate leading to adult mice 50–70% the size of wild-type littermates. The growth defect is completely abolished by neutralization of IL-6. In these mice the production of GH is normal, while circulating levels of IGF-I are markedly decreased. Administration of IL-6 to wild-type mice results in a marked decrease in IGF-I levels. These observations show that in vivo high levels of IL-6 are associated with low levels of IGF-I. However, IL-6 does not directly affect IGF-I production both in vitro and in vivo. In contrast, markedly decreased levels of IGFBP-3 are present in the IL-6 transgenic mice and administration of IL-6 to wild-type mice results in a marked decrease in IGFBP-3 levels. In these mice the decrease in IGFBP-3 levels is associated with impaired formation of the 150 kD ternary complex, even in the presence of normally functional ALS. As a consequence, IL-6 transgenic mice show increased clearance of circulating IGF-I, suggesting that IL-6 decreases IGF-I levels by increased clearance. Proteolytic degradation of IGFBP-3 occurs in the IL-6 transgenic mice, suggesting that the decrease in IGFBP-3 could be at least in part due to proteolysis. The abnormalities of the IGF-I system observed in the IL-6 transgenic mice are similar to those found in patients with systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis, one of the chronic inflammatory diseases characterized by stunted growth and prominent production of IL-6. The IL-6 transgenic mice represent a faithful animal model of the growth impairment associated with chronic inflammation and may therefore provide information relevant to the understanding and treatment of this complication of inflammatory diseases.