Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) is used for treatment of a variety of immunological disorders and in transplantation. As one of its applications in transplantation is the reduction of donor specific antibodies in the circulation, we examined the direct effect of IVIg on essential parameters of human B cell responses in vitro. Purified human B cells, human B cell hybridomas and T cells were cultured in the presence of graded concentrations of IVIg to test its effect on their proliferative capacity. To address the effect of IVIg on immunoglobulin production, we designed a novel technique making use of quantitative polymerase chain reaction to assess IgM and IgG levels. IVIg failed to inhibit proliferation of human B cells and human B cell hybridomas. In contrast, when IVIg was added to T cell cultures, a dose-dependent reduction of the proliferative capacity was observed. IVIg did not affect the levels of IgM and IgG mRNA of activated B cells. Our data show that IVIg is not capable of directly inhibiting key B cell responses. Direct B cell inhibition by IVIg seems therefore unlikely, implying that alteration in humoral immunity by IVIg is due to indirect effects on T cells and/or interactions with circulating antibodies and complement factors.