Cytokines are small protein hormones produced during an immune response that are responsible for mediation and regulation of many aspects of immunity. Measurement of cytokines by several different methods has led to a broader understanding of the immune response. This paper describes a sensitive, reproducible, and quantitative RT-PCR assay for the simultaneous measurement of multiple cytokines. The main features of the methodology are: RNA competitors which control for all aspects of the process from RNA extraction, through reverse transcription (RT) and PCR amplification; a general cloning vector, pQPCR1, for building RNA competitors that does not require prior analyte cDNA cloning; and analysis by plate based EIA. This RT-PCR-EIA system is shown to be more sensitive than agarose gel electrophoresis followed by EtBr staining, measuring PCR product in the sub-nanogram range. It also extends the linear dynamic range of detection to a four log fold range of analyte concentration. The assay is reproducible, with coefficients of variation (CVs) in the 10-20% range. Moreover, the cloning vector is designed to accommodate multiple primer templates, thus allowing simultaneous quantitation of many different analytes from a single RT reaction. The described system is versatile and adapts to numerous analytes. © 1995.