Twenty-three patients with HBe antigen-positive chronic hepatitis B were treated with capitalite first letters Maruyama (SSM). HBe antigen turned negative in 15 patients. The levels of various cytokines in pre- and post-treatment frozen serum samples from six patients whose HBe antigen turned negative and from five whose HBe antigen did not were examined. Reduction of serum interleukin (IL) -10 level to below 20 pg/ml was observed after SSM treatment in four of the six patients whose HBe antigen turned negative. SSM was found to stimulate the production of interferon (IFN) -gamma in peripheral blood cells from two healthy volunteers. This stimulatory effect was confirmed in 12 out of 24 healthy volunteers. SSM augmented the production of IFN-gamma in eight out of 10 patients with chronic hepatitis B and nine of 10 with hepatitis C. These results demonstrate for the first time that SSM stimulates the production of IFN-gamma in human peripheral blood cells and also suggest that treatment of HBe antigen-positive chronic hepatitis B patients with SSM leads to the clearance of HBe antigen and normalization of serum aspartate aminotransferase levels through inhibition of IL-10 and stimulation of IFN-gamma.