More than forty cytokines have been extensively researched on the molecular structure, cell signaling and transduction pathway. With respect to cytokine-regulating therapy in immunological imbalance however, the reported results are conflicting because of the pleiotropic functions and the intricate interactions of the cytokine network. In this review, we outline the observations on interleukin-10 (IL-10) upregulatory therapy. Despite varying opinions on its therapeutic effects for different disorders, IL-10 has been considered a potential antiinflammatory cytokine. Numerous studies support the view that IL-10 shows a strong suppressive effect on Th1 lymphocytes, antigen presenting cells and the production of inflammatory mediators. It is also noticeable that recent research has revealed the relationship between IL-10 induced antigen specific regulatory CD4+ T cells and antigen specific immune tolerance. This specific regulation was mediated in part through IL-10 secretion, because anti-IL-10 treatment reverted the inhibitory effect of regulatory T cell clones. In different models, these cells were shown to inhibit both Th1 and Th2-type inflammatory responses through the secretion of IL-10. With the presence of IL-10, regulatory T cells may induce peripheral immune tolerance. Exogenous administration, transgenic expression and endogenous stimulative agents of IL-10 have been used for a variety of inflammatory diseases, autoimmune diseases and allograft rejection in patients and experimental models. A therapeutic intervention with drug inducing endogenous IL-10 may be more practical than an exogenous administration of IL-10 with transient effect. Although further investigation on gene regulation of IL-10 is necessary, increasing studies have been reported concerning the attempt to develop the agents, which could promote endogenous IL-10 production for the treatment of immunological disorders and inflammatory diseases. With some unclear mechanisms, these agents have strongly upregulated IL-10 production in vitro or in vivo. Reported IL-10 upregulatory agents have shown promising prospects for remission of autoimmune diseases and inflammatory diseases and have even induced antigen specific immune tolerance. It is interesting that the IL-10 upregulatory effect of several traditional immunosuppressive drugs has been detected, e.g. glucocorticoid, which is considered "not more as an immunosuppressive drug but an immune modulating agent". Approximately twenty IL-10 upregulatory agents as instances are described in the present review. In addition, their therapeutic effects in various diseases are discussed.