Interleukin-10 (IL-10) exerts a wide spectrum of regulatory activities in the immune and inflammatory response. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of endogenous IL-10 on the modulation of the inflammatory response in mice subjected to carrageenan-induced lung injury. When compared to carrageenan-treated IL-10 wild-type (WT) mice, carrageenan-treated IL-10 knock-out mice (IL-10KO) mice experienced a higher rate of pleural exudation, and polymorphonuclear cell migration. Exudate levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokines tumour necrosis factor, interleukin-1beta and interleukin-6 were also greatly enhanced in IL-10KO mice in comparison to wild-type mice. Lung myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity was significantly reduced in IL-10WT mice when compared to IL-10KO mice-treated with carrageenan. The degree of oxidative and nitrosative damage was significantly higher in IL-10KO mice than in wild-type littermates, as indicated by elevated malondialdehyde levels and formation of nitrotyrosine and poly (ADP-ribose) synthetase (PARS). Staining of lung tissue sections obtained from carrageenan-treated IL-10WT with an anti-COX-2 antibody showed a positive staining of the inflamed tissue. Furthermore, expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) was found mainly in the macrophages of the inflamed lungs from carrageenan-treated IL-10WT mice. The intensity and degree of the staining for COX-2 and iNOS were markedly enhanced in tissue sections obtained from carrageenan-treated IL-10KO mice. Most notably, the degree of lung injury caused by carrageenan was also enhanced in IL-10KO mice. Taken together, our results clearly demonstrate that endogenous IL-10 exerts an anti-inflammatory role during acute inflammation and tissue damage associated with carrageenan-induced pleurisy, possibly by regulating neutrophil recruitment, and the subsequent cytokine and oxidant generation.