To elucidate the mechanism of IL-4-induced enhancement of IgE and IgG1 production, murine splenic B cells and A-MuLV-transformed cells were cultured with LPS and IL-4 and assayed for epsilon and gamma 1 transcripts. Concomitant treatment with IL-4 and LPS induced expression of C epsilon transcripts in both normal and transformed cells. Expression of these truncated C epsilon transcripts preceded accumulation of normal epsilon mRNA in treated cells. Consistent data were obtained with respect to gamma 1 RNA expression. These results suggest that IL-4 can direct class switching in the context of a mechanism associated with differential expression of germline constant region genes.