- To investigate the influence of interleukin 6 (IL-6) production on malignancy of tumor cells we transfected cells of the high-metastatic, low-immunogenic D122 clone of the Lewis lung carcinoma with a mammalian expression vector containing the human IL-6 complementary DNA. In vitro , IL-6 positive transfectants showed growth inhibition that was directly correlated with the levels of IL-6 production. The in vitro growth arrest did not seem to be a function of an autocrine system mediated via the secreted human IL-6 acting on the tumor cell surface receptors since neutralizing antibodies to human IL-6 did not prevent the growth inhibition. Neither did exogenous human recombinant IL-6 affect the growth of D122 cells. In vivo , IL-6 positive transfectants showed reduction of tumorigenicity and significant suppression of metastatic competence in syngeneic, immunocompetent mice. In mature T-cell deficient nude mice, the IL-6 transfectants showed some arrest of local growth but no suppression of lung metastasis. It seems therefore that the reduction of metastatic competence of IL-6 transfectants is primarily a function of stimulation by the transfectants of host T-cell immune responses. Immunization with inactivated high-positive IL-6 transfectants induced high levels of anti-tumor cytotoxic T-lymphocytes and protected mice against metastatic growth of a subsequent graft of parental tumor cells. Moreover, reduction of metastatic growth of parental highly metastatic D122 cells was also achieved when immunization of mice was begun after establishment of the primary parental tumors. Thus, inactivated IL-6 transfectants were effective when used as a cellular vaccine for experimental immunotherapy of metastasis.