The characteristic function of interleukin (IL)-15 appears to be its ability to mimic the stimulatory action of IL-2 on lymphocytes by utilizing part of the IL-2 receptor complex. To gain insight into the immunoregulatory properties of this cytokine in patients with minimal-change nephrotic syndrome (MCNS), we analyzed effects of IL-15 on vascular permeability factor (VPF) release in vitro. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were isolated from 16 patients with MCNS, 16 patients with IgA nephropathy (IgAN) and 16 healthy controls. Cells were stimulated with concanavalin A (Con A) and the VPF was assessed using the method of Lagrue with minor modifications. PBMC secreted significantly increased amounts of VPF under stimulation with Con A in patients with MCNS and IgAN patients with the nephrotic syndrome as compared with normal controls. Here we have demonstrated, for the first time, that addition of IL-15 to PBMC obtained from nephrotic patients as well as from normal controls increased Con A-induced release of VPF by 250%. This stimulatory effect was found highly significant and was dose-dependent. The effect of IL-15 on the secretion of VPF was specific, since a complete reversion was obtained with a neutralizing antibody to human IL-15. Our findings reveal that IL-15 has the potential to function as an immunoregulatory molecule of PBMC VPF release. In addition, IL-15 had similar effects to IL-2 in terms of its capacity to upregulate VPF release. Taken together, our data emphasize a positive regulatory role for IL-15 in inducing the release of VPF when present at optimal levels. Therefore, IL-15 antagonists may provide a basis for immune intervention in the pathophysiology of VPF.