IL-6 is a pleiotropic cytokine often associated with inflammation. Inhibition of this pathway has led to successful treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, but one unforeseen potential complication of anti-IL-6 therapy is bowel perforation. Within the intestine, IL-6 has been shown to prevent epithelial apoptosis during prolonged inflammation. The role of IL-6 in the intestine during an initial inflammatory insult is unknown. Here, we evaluate the role of IL-6 at the onset of an inflammatory injury. Using two murine models of bowel injury - wound by biopsy and bacterial triggered colitis - we demonstrated that IL-6 is induced soon after injury by multiple cell types including intraepithelial lymphocytes. Inhibition of IL-6 resulted in impaired wound healing due to decreased epithelial proliferation. Using intestinal tissue obtained from patients who underwent surgical resection of the colon due to traumatic perforation, we observed cells with detectable IL-6 within the area of perforation and not at distant sites. Our data demonstrate the important role of IL-6 produced in part by intraepithelial lymphocytes at the onset of an inflammatory injury for epithelial proliferation and wound repair.