Abstract Following infection with influenza virus, animals display decreased locomotor activity and feeding behavior and loss of body weight. It has been suggested that these effects may be mediated by cytokines, such as interleukin-1 (IL-1), interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor α (TNF- α), induced by the infection. To assess the potential role of IL-1, we tested the ability of a naturally occurring IL-1-receptor antagonist (IL-1ra) to antagonize the changes in feeding behavior induced by IL-1, endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide, LPS), and infection with influenza virus. Feeding behavior was assessed by measuring the daily intake of food pellets and sweetened milk in a 30-min period. Acute injection of IL-1 β decreased milk intake, but mouse IL-6 and mouse TNF- α did not. However, TNF- α decreased food pellet intake slightly, especially when it was injected at the beginning of the dark phase. The reductions in milk intake induced by mouse IL-1 β were largely prevented by IL-1ra pretreatment (100 μg/mouse i.p.). The LPS-induced reductions in milk intake were attenuated, but not blocked, by IL-1ra treatment (300 μg/mouse). LPS still induced significant decrements in the presence of the antagonist. In influenza virus-infected mice, IL-1ra was administered either by repeated subcutaneous (s.c.) injections, or by continuous s.c. infusion from osmotic minipumps. These IL-1ra treatments produced small, but statistically significant, attenuations of the depression in milk and food pellet intake in the virus-infected mice. In several experiments, IL-1ra treatment increased the survival of influenza virus-infected mice. Thus the attenuation of the hypophagia may have been caused by this IL-1ra-induced increase in survival. The results suggest that IL-1 contributes to sickness behavior induced by LPS and influenza virus infection, but it is not the only factor involved.