Fever can provoke "febrile" seizures (FS). Because complex FS may promote development of temporal lobe epilepsy, understanding their mechanisms is clinically important. Using an immature rodent model and transgenic technology, we examined the role of interleukin-1beta, (IL-1beta), a pyrogenic, proinflammatory cytokine, in FS. IL-1beta receptor-deficient mice were resistant to experimental FS. This resistance appeared independent of genetic background and was attributed to lack of IL-1beta signaling, because exogenous cytokine reduced seizure threshold in wild-type but not receptor-deficient mice independent of strain. In addition, high IL-1beta doses induced seizures only in IL-1beta receptor-expressing mice. These data indicate that IL-1beta signaling contributes critically to fever-induced hyperexcitability underlying FS, constituting a potential target for their prevention.