Lewis and Brown Norway rats are entirely different with respect to the polarization of their immune responses (Th1 and Th2, respectively). We found that naive Lewis rat splenocytes treated in vitro with heat-killed Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) upregulate the expression of both subunits of IL-27 (IL-27p28 and EBI3). Mtb treatment caused naive Lewis rat splenocytes to express 4.6-fold more IL-27p28 than Mtb-treated Brown Norway rat splenocytes 6h after the treatment. Although WSX-1, the IL-27 receptor, was not induced by Mtb treatment in splenocytes from either rat strain, Lewis rats expressed significantly higher levels of the IL-27 signal transducers T-bet and IL-12Rbeta2 than Brown Norway rats. Flow cytometric analysis of dendritic cells from bone marrow cells revealed Lewis rats had more IL-27p28-positive cells. Thus, early in the immune response, Lewis rats appear to produce higher levels of IL-27 than Brown Norway rats, resulting in polarization towards Th1-immunity.