We have studied, using a telemetry system, the pyrogenic properties of recombinant murine interleukin-18 (rmIL-18) injected into the peritoneum of C57BL/6 mice. The effect of IL-18 was compared with the febrile response induced by human IL-1beta, lipopolysaccharide (LPS), and recombinant murine interferon-gamma (rmIFN-gamma). Both IL-1beta and LPS induced a febrile response within the first hour after the intraperitoneal injection, whereas rmIL-18 (10-200 microg/kg) and rmIFN-gamma (10-150 microg/kg) did not cause significant changes in the core body temperature of mice. Surprisingly, increasing doses of IL-18, injected intraperitoneally 30 min before IL-1beta, significantly reduced the IL-1beta-induced fever response. In contrast, the same pretreatment with IL-18 did not modify the febrile response induced by LPS. IFN-gamma does not seem to play a role in the IL-18-mediated attenuation of IL-1beta-induced fever. In fact, there was no elevation of IFN-gamma in the serum of mice treated with IL-18, and a pretreatment with IFN-gamma did not modify the fever response induced by IL-1beta. We conclude that IL-18 is not pyrogenic when injected intraperitoneally in C57BL/6 mice. Furthermore, a pretreatment with IL-18, 30 min before IL-1beta, attenuates the febrile response induced by IL-1beta.