The T cell activation is initiated by interaction of specific Ags with TCR, followed by activation of intracellular biochemical events leading to activation of several genes. The activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) proteins in a primary TCR-mediated activation of T cells have been explored. In purified human peripheral blood T cells, nuclear STAT proteins were activated approximately 3 h after activation by cross-linked anti-CD3 Abs. These STAT proteins were detected by using the IFN-gamma-activated sequence (GAS) and related oligonucleotides as probes in electrophoretic mobility shift assay. Analysis of the nuclear extracts with anti-STAT Abs indicated that they contained STAT-3 and additional proteins crossreactive with the STAT family. The induction of STAT activity was inhibited completely by pretreatment with either cycloheximide or cyclosporin A, thus indicating that the induction was due to a secondary factor produced by the activated T cells. As neutralizing anti-IL-6 Abs effectively down-regulated the early induction of STAT proteins and as exogenously added IL-6 rapidly activated DNA binding similar to TCR-mediated bindings, it can be concluded that IL-6 is the factor responsible for the activation of STAT proteins in a primary T cell response.