Interleukin (IL)-13 is a cytokine thought to play an important role in IgE-mediated allergic reactions. The aims of the present study were to localize IL-13 mRNA in positive tuberculin reactions and atopic dermatitis lesions using in situ hybridization and to study the possible influence of atopy on the cytokine gene expression in tuberculin reactions. Punch biopsy specimens were taken from tuberculin reactions in 17 nonatopic and 12 atopic (Phadiatop positive), but otherwise healthy, individuals 72 h after injection of purified protein derivative, from chronic lichenified lesions and nonlesional skin in six patients with atopic dermatitis and from normal skin in 12 healthy individuals. IL-13-mRNA-producing cells were located mainly in the dermal-cell infiltrates, both in atopic dermatitis lesions and tuberculin reactions. In the atopic dermatitis lesions, IL-13-mRNA expression was found in close apposition to the epidermis. Higher numbers of IL-13-mRNA-producing cells were observed in the dermal-cell infiltrates of chronic lichenified skin lesions of patients with atopic dermatitis (13.3 cells/mm2, range 0.6-42.4 cells/mm2) than in the tuberculin reactions (1.1 cells/mm2, range 0-3.8 cells/mm2) (P < 0.01) despite the larger cell infiltrates in the tuberculin reactions. No significant difference in IL-13 or interferon-γ gene expression in the tuberculin reactions was seen between atopic and nonatopic individuals.