The Th2 cytokine interleukin (IL)-13 is believed to play an important role in the development of allergy, although it has also been ascribed anti-inflammatory roles in several experimental models. In this study, we have examined the effects of human recombinant IL-13 on eosinophilic lung inflammation in the guinea pig. IL-13 (1 to 100 ng, given by intratracheal instillation) did not elicit airway eosinophil recruitment. A pronounced accumulation of eosinophils, as well as monocyte/macrophages, was elicited by intratracheal instillation of guinea pig tumor necrosis factor alpha (gpTNF-α). Intratracheal administration of IL-13 (1 to 100 ng) given immediately prior to exposure to gpTNF-α resulted in a dose-related suppression of eosinophil and monocyte/macrophage accumulation in the airways, as assessed by bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) and eosinophil peroxidase activity in whole-lung homogenates. IL-13 treatment also reduced BAL fluid (BALF) leukocyte accumulation induced by subsequent aerosol antigen challenge of sensitized guinea pigs. Antigen challenge also resulted in elevated levels of immunoreactive eotaxin and eosinophil-stimulating activity in BALF, although only the latter was reduced significantly by IL-13 instillation prior to challenge. In contrast to the suppressive effects of IL-13, instillation of human recombinant IL-4 (100 ng) alone elicited an increase in BALF monocyte/macrophage numbers, and IL-4 was unable to inhibit gpTNF-α-induced leukocyte accumulation. Hence, IL-13 (but not human IL-4) exhibits an anti-inflammatory action in the airways of gpTNF-α- or antigen-challenged guinea pigs, by mechanisms that may involve the decreased generation of eosinophil-stimulating activity in the airways.