Yersinia enterocolitica is a gram-negative enteric pathogen responsible for a number of gastrointestinal disorders. A striking feature of the pathology of a Y. enterocolitica infection is inflammation. Recently, we demonstrated a role for interleukin-1α (IL-1α) in the establishment of intestinal inflammation in response to a Y. enterocolitica infection. A cytokine directly affected by IL-1 levels is IL-6. A previous report suggested that IL-6 plays an anti-inflammatory role during Y. enterocolitica infection, and in other systems IL-6 has been shown to be proinflammatory. Therefore, a closer examination of the roles of IL-6 and inflammatory cytokines in the control of Y. enterocolitica infection in IL-6-/- mice was undertaken. Y. enterocolitica organisms were more virulent in the IL-6-/- mice (60-fold decreased 50% lethal dose) and colonized systemic tissues more rapidly and to a higher level than in the wild-type mice. One role of IL-6 during a Y. enterocolitica infection may be the downmodulation of the inflammatory response. The IL-6-/- mice have a more robust TH1 T-cell response, as well as hyperinflammatory pathologies. These phenotypes appear to be due to the misregulation of tumor necrosis factor alpha, monocyte chemotactic protein 1, IL-10, transforming growth factor β1, and gamma interferon in the IL-6-/- mouse. These data provide further insight into the intricate cytokine signaling pathways involved in the regulation of inflammatory responses and the control of bacterial infections.