The carotid body (CB) senses changes in arterial blood PO2 and modulates respiratory movement. It is generally accepted that the dopaminergic type I cells in the CB are chemoreceptors. However, it has not been clarified whether the carotid body has the ability to perceive the stimulation of proinflammatory cytokines. Interleukin 6 (IL-6) as a multifunctional cytokine plays a pivotal role in host defense mechanism. In the present study, we observed the expression of IL-6Rα mRNA and protein in the carotid body using immunohistochemistry, Western blots, and in situ hybridization. The results confirmed the presence of IL-6Rα proteins and mRNAs in the glomus cells of rat carotid body. These results suggest that the function of the carotid body may be influenced by the proinflammatrory cytokines through their receptors. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.