The report shows that melatonin enhances IL-2 and IL-6 production by two human lymphocytic (Jurkat) and monocytic (U937) cell lines via a nuclear receptor-mediated mechanism. Jurkat cells express nuclear (RZRα, RORα1 and RORα2) and membrane (mt1) melatonin receptors, and melatonin binds to Jurkat nuclei and membranes with the same affinity described for human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). Melatonin enhances IL-2 production by Jurkat cells activated by either phytohemagglutinin (PHA) or phorbol myristate acetate (PMA). PHA activation of Jurkat cells does not change the profile of melatonin receptor expression; on the contrary, PMA activation negatively regulates the mt1 receptor. In the absence of the membrane receptor, melatonin still activates IL-2 production. U937 cells express only the mt1 receptor. Although melatonin binds to both U937 nuclei and membranes, CGP 52608, a ligand of the nuclear receptor for melatonin, does not inhibit melatonin binding to U937 nuclei, suggesting that a protein other than the RZR/RORα receptor was involved in the process. In U937 cells, melatonin did not modify basal production of IL-6 or when activated by PMA plus LPS (lipopolysaccharide), a treatment that downregulates the expression of the mt1 receptor. However, in U937 cells activated with IFN-Γ, which induces the expression of the RORα1 and RORα2 nuclear receptors and represses the expression of the mt1 receptor, melatonin can activate IL-6 production. These results show that the expression of nuclear melatonin receptor is sufficient for melatonin to activate cytokine production in human lymphocytic and monocytic cell lines.