Neonatal T cells are poor promoters of Ig secretion by neonatal B cells. Since IL-10 has been shown to play a role in B cell differentiation, we investigated the relationship of IL-10 production by neonatal T cells and their ability to provide B cell help. Neonatal CD4+(CD8-) T cells and adult naive CD4+ (CD8-/CD45RO-) T cells activated with immobilized anti-CD3 produced consistently less IL-10 than adult memory CD4+(CD8-/CD45RA-) T cells. Production of IL-10 by adult and neonatal T cells was dependent on IL-2, but was unaffected by supplemental IL-4. Despite diminished IL-10 production, supplemental IL-10 increased neonatal T cell-dependent Ig secretion only modestly, but did not increase Ig heavy chain isotype switching. This contrasted with the ability of IL-10 to enhance the secretion of all Ig isotypes by adult B cells stimulated in the presence of either IL-2 or IL-4. These results suggest that IL-10 can promote T cell-dependent Ig secretion but not Ig heavy chain isotype switching by neonatal B cells. However, deficient IL-10 production alone does not account for the poor ability of neonatal T cells to support neonatal B cell Ig production.