The Interleukin (IL)-12 family contains several heterodimeric composite cytokines which share subunits among each other. IL-12 consists of the subunits p40 (shared with IL-23) and p35. p35 is shared with the composite cytokine IL-35 which comprises of the p35/EBI3 heterodimer (EBI3 shared with IL-27). IL-35 signals via homo- or heterodimers of IL-12Rβ2, gp130 and WSX-1, which are shared with IL-12 and IL-27 receptor complexes, respectively. p35 was efficiently secreted in complex with p40 as IL-12 but not with EBI3 as IL-35 in several transfected cell lines tested which complicates the analysis of IL-35 signal transduction. p35 and p40 but not p35 and EBI3 form an inter-chain disulfide bridge. Mutation of the responsible cysteine residue (p40C197A) reduced IL-12 formation and activity only slightly. Importantly, the p40C197Amutation prevented the formation of antagonistic p40 homodimers which enabled the in vitro reconstitution of biologically active IL-12 with p35 produced in bacteria (p35bac). Reconstitution of IL-35 with p35bac and EBI3 did, however, fail to induce signal transduction in Ba/F3 cells expressing IL-12Rβ2 and gp130. In summary, we describe the in vitro reconstitution of IL-12, but fail to produce recombinant IL-35 by this novel approach.