HuIL-6 cDNA, cloned into a neomycin resistant conferring expression vector, BMGNeo, was transfected into Lewis Lung Carcinoma (LLC) cells. LLC cells (5 x 10(6) ml-1) transfected with IL-6 cDNA (LLC-IL6) secreted IL-6 into the culture supernatant at a concentration of 9.9 ng ml-1 within 48 h. When 1,000,000 of untransfected LLC, BMGNeo vector transfected LLC (LLC-Neo) or LLC-IL6 cells were transplanted into C57BL/6 mice subcutaneously, the mean +/- s.d. of survival times of these mice were 33.3 +/- 9.7, 34.3 +/- 7.1 and 17.0 +/- 3.1 days, respectively. The survival time of LLC-IL6 cells transplanted mice was significantly shorter than that of LLC (P < 0.01) or LLC-Neo (P < 0.01) cells transplanted mice without a measurable difference of tumour size. Plasma concentration of IL-6 steadily increased in LLC-IL6 transplanted mice. Body weight and serum albumin were significantly lower in LLC-IL6 transplanted mice than in LLC transplanted mice. Mouse IL-1 alpha and mouse TNF-alpha were not detected in the plasma of LLC-IL6 transplanted mice. These data suggested that secretion of IL-6 from LLC cells was unable to alter net tumour growth rate but rather caused a state similar to cachexia without detectable increase of IL-1 alpha and TNF-alpha in the plasma. This state may be responsible for the shortened survival of LLC-IL6 tumour-bearing mice.