Human peripheral blood mononuclear cells develop a powerful lytic capacity when cultured in vitro with interleukin-2 (IL-2), becoming lymphokine-activated killer cells (LAK cells). As part of an investigation into means of influencing this process, the effect of other cytokines has been examined. In this study we describe the ability of interleukin-6 (IL-6) to regulate the induction and function of human LAK cells. The results show that substitution of IL-6 for IL-2 did not lead to the development of functional LAK cells, nor was IL-6 able to alter the lytic capacity of established LAK cells. However, when IL-6 was included with IL-2 during the induction phase of the LAK cells, the resulting cells displayed considerably greater lytic activity than those prepared with IL-2 alone. This effect was IL-6 dose-related. These results indicate that LAK cell development may be positively regulated in vitro; the implications of this observation for the clinical usage of LAK cells are discussed.