We have identified a preparation of recombinant murine interleukin-6 (mIL-6) that, in addition to the anticipated product, also contained approximately equal amounts of mIL-6 with a C-terminal pentapeptide extension. The extension mutant was generated by readthrough of the stopcodon, and termination at a second in-frame stopcodon 12 base pairs 3' in the expression vector. Aliquots of the preparation were subjected to proteolytic digestion with Asp-N and Lys-C-endopeptidase. The resultant peptides were separated by reversed-phase capillary HPLC, and analysed using a combination of mass spectrometry and N-terminal sequence analysis. These data revealed a C-terminal pentapeptide (Gln-Gly-Ser-Val-Asp) extension, with the authentic stopcodon being translated as glutamine. The extension mutant was isolated by reversed-phase HPLC and shown to have similar mitogenic activity to mIL-6 on murine hybridoma 7TD1 cells.