The present study analyses the ability of HIV-1 to modulate IL-10 production in cells of monocyte-macrophage lineage cultured in the presence of macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF). Both monocytes and macrophages spontaneously produced low amount of IL-10. Lipopolysaccharide(LPS) induced a strong IL-10 response in fresh monocytes and in M-CSF-treated macrophages. In contrast, macrophages cultured in the absence of M-CSF exhibited a marked decrease in their susceptibility to LPS stimulation. M-CSF increased the IL-10 response of macrophages to LPS by enhancing both the expression of membrane-bound CD14, the protein that serves as LPS receptor, and the sensibility of CD14-expressing cells to LPS stimulation. Neither spontaneous nor LPS-induced expression of IL-10 was modulated in monocytes and macrophages by infection with eight monocytotropic strains, as demonstrated by ELISA and cytofluorimetric analysis. In contrast, all the HIV-1 strains primed macrophages for an increased IL-6 response to LPS stimulation. To determine whether IL-10 production was associated within vivo infection, monocytes from AIDS individuals were analysed for IL-10 production. We found that neither spontaneous nor LPS-induced IL-10 production were different between healthy controls and HIV-infected patients. Taken together, these data strongly suggest that HIV-1 infection of monocytes-macrophages does not play a significant role in the regulation of IL-10 in infected patients. This study also emphasizes the role of M-CSF activation in the regulation of the cytokine response in macrophages.