We evaluated the mechanism by which human pooled γ-globulin for intravenous use (hIVIG) inhibits interleukin-2 (IL-2) production by human T cells. hIVIG reduced by 70-95% the amount of IL-2 in culture supernatants from mitogen-stimulated peripheral blood T cells or Jurkat cells. This reduction was not apparent at the transcriptional level: hIVIG had no effect on the levels of IL-2 mRNA or on the accumulation of firefly luciferase when its gene was linked to the IL-2 promoters. In contrast, hIVIG inhibited IL-2 protein synthesis, and the intracellular IL-2 was not restored by monensin. Our results indicate that the inhibition of IL-2 production by hIVIG occurred posttranscriptionally, and also suggest that secretion was unaffected, and that this effect of hIVIG was specific for IL-2 (and possibly other related cytokines). The data identify a previously uncharacterized regulatory mechanism of IL-2 production and predict that this immunomodulatory effect of hIVIG may be significant for its therapeutic actions in immune-mediated diseases.