Oral ulcerative mucositis is a common toxicity associated with drug and radiation therapy for cancer. It impacts on quality of life and economic outcomes, as well as morbidity and mortality. Mucositis is often associated with dose limitations for chemotherapy or is a cause for dose interruption for radiation. The complexity of mucositis as a biological process has only been recently appreciated. It has been suggested that the condition represents a sequential interaction of oral mucosal cells and tissues, pro-inflammatory cytokines and local factors such as saliva and the oral microbiota. The recognition that the pathophysiology of mucositis is a multifactorial process was partially suggested by the observation that interleukin-11 (IL-11), a pleotropic cytokine, favorably altered the course of chemotherapy-induced mucositis in an animal model. In the current study, we evaluated a series of biologic and morphologic outcomes to determine their roles and sequence in the development of experimental radiation-induced mucositis and to evaluate the effects of IL-11 in attenuating them. Our results suggest that IL-11 favorably modulates acute radiation-induced mucositis by attenuating pro-inflammatory cytokine expression. Data are also presented which help define the pathobiological sequence of mucositis.