Interferon (IFN)-gamma and interleukin (IL)-4 are prototypic type 1 and type 2 cytokines which are known to play pathogenetic and protective roles, respectively, in NOD mouse IDDM. The capacity of male NOD mice to produce more IL-4 and less IFN-gamma within the insulitic lesions than females has been suggested to contribute to their lower incidence of diabetes. In this study we have tested the effects of prolonged prophylactic treatment of male NOD mice with rat IFN-gamma, mouse IFN-gamma, anti-IL-4 monoclonal antibody (mAb) and recombinant murine soluble IL-4 receptor (smIL-4R) on the diabetogenic events leading to insulitis and diabetes. None of these treatments influenced spontaneous and/or cyclophosphamide-induced autoimmune diabetogenesis in male NOD mice. Control mice exhibited comparable histological signs of insulitis and incidence of diabetes to those treated with either mouse/rat IFN-gamma or specific IL-4 inhibitors. On the contrary, both clinical and histological signs of diabetes were suppressed by prophylactic treatment with anti-IFN-gamma mAb. These findings indicate that the autoimmune diathesis of male NOD mice towards IDDM cannot be augmented by manipulation of endogenous IFN-gamma or IL-4.