Abstract The effects of the interleukins IL-7 and IL-9 on cell cycle progression were investigated by conventional [ 3H]thymidine incorporation and by the bivariate BrdU/Hoechst technique. Both IL-7 and IL-9 drive phytohemagglutinin-activated T cells through more than one cell cycle, but IL-7 was more potent on cell cycle progression than IL-9. Neither synergistic nor inhibitory effects were seen between various combinations of the lymphokines IL-7, IL-9 and IL-4 compared to each lymphokine alone. When T cells are activated with phytohemagglutinin for 3 days, all or most IL-4 responsive cells respond to IL-7 as well, whereas only a part of IL-7 responders are IL-4 responders. In contrast, when T cells are activated with phytohemagglutinin for 7 days, the quantitative data of the cell cycle distribution suggest that the population of IL-7 responders is at least an overlapping, if not a real subset of the population of the IL-4 responders.