Oncostatin M (OSM) and leukaemia inhibitory factor (LIF) exhibit pleiotropic biological activities and share many structural and genetic features. The two cytokines bind with high affinity to the same receptor (LIF/OSM receptor), which consists of the LIF receptor alpha chain (LIFRalpha) and the signal transduction unit gp130. A soluble form of the beta chain of the receptor complex called soluble gp130 (sgp130) has been cloned. In this study, we sought to determine whether recombinant sgp130 or anti-gp130 Ab could attenuate the resorption of proteoglycans induced by OSM and LIF in articular cartilage explants. The results show that at high concentrations sgp130 is capable of attenuating both LIF and OSM mediated resorption. In contrast, anti-gp130 Ab selectively inhibited the stimulation of proteoglycan (PG) release by OSM, albeit minimally. The failure of anti-gp130 to attenuate LIF stimulated PG resorption may be due to the normal interaction of LIF with LIFRalpha and unfettered heterodimerization of LIFRalpha with gp130 in the presence of the antibody. The results indicate that sgp130 and anti-gp130 can modulate cartilage PG metabolism in vitro. Whether sgp130 may have therapeutic activity in models of arthritis or indeed in arthritic diseases remains to be determined.