Abstract Melatonin could act on immune system by regulating cytokine production of immunocompetent cells. The hormone enhances IL-2, IFN-γ and IL-6 production by cultured human mononuclear cells. As enhancement of IL-6 production is related to monocyte activation by melatonin, the hormone acts on human lymphoid cells causing a Th1-type response. This paper shows that melatonin seems to promote a Th1-response by increasing IL-12 production. The hormone enhances IL-12 production by cultured monocytes under suboptimal stimulation in a dose-dependent way. The effect of the hormone increases when PBMCs are incubated with melatonin before monocyte isolation. Enhanced IL-12 production by melatonin can also be shown in cultured human mononuclear cells.