Interleukin-10 (IL-10) cytokine production was assessed using peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from 67 individuals living in an area endemic for schistosomiasis japonica in China (Dongting Lake, Hunan Province), and 11 control subjects from a non-endemic part of the same Province. Production of IL-10 was measured following in vitro stimulation of PBMC using whole parasite extract (SWAP) or a panel of recombinant Schistosoma japonicum antigens (22-kDa tegumental membrane-associated antigen, glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase, paramyosin, 14-kDa fatty acid-binding protein and 28-kDa glutathione S-transferase) which are of recognized interest in the development of protective immunity to schistosomiasis. Significantly, PBMC isolated from the exposed population compared with the non-exposed population produced higher levels of IL-10. There was a trend towards higher mean levels of IL-10 release in putatively resistant (insusceptible) (consistently egg negative but highly exposed) individuals compared with susceptible (egg-positive) subjects from the exposed population. Analysis of individual exposure (the duration of water contact and the percent body surface area in contact with water, expressed as m 2 h/day) vs. IL-10 production indicated a weak but consistent and statistically significant inverse correlation, with lower levels of exposure being associated with higher levels of IL-10. These results suggest an association between IL-10 production and resistance to S. japonicum in subjects from this Chinese population exposed to infection. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd.