We have used IL-10 gene knockout mice (IL-10T) to examine the role of endogenous IL-10 in the down-modulation of hepatic granuloma formation and lymphocyte responses that occurs in chronic infection with the helminth parasite Schistosoma mansoni. Although IL-10-deficient animals showed 20 to 30% mortality between 8 and 14 wk postinfection, they displayed no alterations in their susceptibility to infection and produced similar numbers of eggs as their wild-type littermates. The IL-10T mice displayed a significant increase in hepatic granuloma size at the acute stage of infection, which was associated with increased IFN- gamma, IL-2, IL-1beta, and TNF-alpha mRNA expression in liver and elevated Th1-type cytokine production by lymphoid cells. Despite developing an enhanced Th1-type cytokine response, the IL-10T mice showed no consistent decrease in their Th2-type cytokine profile. Surprisingly, although granulomatous inflammation was enhanced at the acute stage of infection, the livers of IL-10T mice displayed no significant increase in fibrosis and underwent normal immune down-modulation at the chronic stage of infection. Moreover, the down-modulated state could be induced in IL-10T mice by sensitizing the animals to schistosome eggs before infection, further demonstrating that the major down-regulatory mechanism is not dependent upon IL-10. We conclude that while IL-10 plays an important role in controlling acute granulomatous inflammation, it plays no essential role in the process of immune down-modulation in chronic schistosome infection.