Further characterization of the canine immune system will greatly benefit from the availability of tools to detect canine cytokines. Our interest concerns the study on the role of cytokines in canine visceral leishmaniasis. For this purpose, we have designed specific primers using previously published sequences for the detection of canine IL-2, IFN-gamma and IL10 mRNA by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). For IL-4, we have cloned and sequenced this cytokine gene, and developed canine-specific primers. To control for sample-to-sample variation in the quantity of mRNA and variation in the RT and PCR reactions, the mRNA levels of glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (G3PDH), a housekeeping gene, were determined in parallel. Primers to amplify G3PDH were designed from consensus sequences obtained from the Genbank database. The mRNA levels of the cytokines mentioned here were detected from ConA-stimulated peripheral mononuclear cells derived from Leishmania-infected dogs. A different pattern of cytokine production among infected animals was found.