Crystal-related joint diseases are often associated with systemic inflammatory manifestations, including increased levels of acute-phase proteins, leukocytosis, and fever. Recently, interleukin-6 (IL-6) has been identified as a pluripotent mediator of inflammatory and immunologic responses and the major hepatocyte-stimulating factor. In this study, we demonstrated that monosodium urate (MSU) and calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate (CPPD) crystals, and to a lesser extent, hydroxyapatite crystals, increased IL-6 production by synoviocytes and monocytes in vitro. Immunoprecipitation experiments showed that MSU and CPPD crystals, but not hydroxyapatite crystals, were able to increase the release of newly synthesized IL-6. Crystal-induced IL-6 stimulated acute-phase protein synthesis, immunoglobulin production, and hybridoma cell proliferation, which was neutralized by a specific antibody to IL-6. High levels of IL-6 were found in synovial fluid from patients with gout and pseudogout. These results demonstrate that MSU and CPPD crystals can induce IL-6 production in synoviocytes and monocytes, and that synovial fluid from patients with gout and pseudogout contains high levels of IL-6. Crystal-induced IL-6 is likely to be an important mediator of inflammatory responses in acute gout and pseudogout.