Safe and efficient transplantation of embryonic stem (ES) cells to the brain requires that local inflammatory and immune responses to allogeneic grafts are inhibited. To investigate cytokines that affect graft cell survival and differentiation, we used stromal cell-derived inducing activity to induce the differentiation of neural progenitor cells (NPCs) from mouse ES cells and transplanted the NPCs into mouse brain. Examination of surrounding brain tissue revealed elevated expression levels of interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-4, and IL-6 in response to NPC transplantation. Among these, only IL-6 reduced neuronal differentiation and promoted glial differentiation in vitro. When we added anti-IL-6 receptor antibodies to NPCs during transplantation, this single and local blockade of IL-6 signaling reduced the accumulation of host-derived leukocytes, including microglia. Furthermore, it also promoted neuronal differentiation and reduced glial differentiation from the grafted NPCs to an extent similar to that with systemic and continuous administration of cyclosporine A. These results suggest that local administration of anti-IL-6 receptor antibodies with NPCs may promote neuronal differentiation during the treatment of neurological diseases with cell replacement therapy. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.