The objective of the present study was to compare the host's immune responses between unresponsive and responsive patients with anthroponotic cutaneous leishmaniasis (ACL) treated by meglumine antimoniate. A case-control study was carried out in an endemic focus in Iran. Blood samples were taken from patients and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were isolated. Two wells were considered for each isolate of unresponsive and responsive patients; one was exposed to L. tropica (Lt-stimulated cells) and the other remained non-exposed (non-stimulated cells). After 24 h of incubation, whole RNA was extracted from each sample. Real-time quantitative PCR was carried out to confirm the differences in expression levels of IL-12 P40, IFN-γ, IL-1β, IL-4 and IL-10 among isolates. Data were analyzed and P < 0.05 was considered to be statistically significant. In our study, Lt-stimulated cells and non-stimulated cells in unresponsive groups demonstrated significantly lower expression levels of IL-1β, IL-12 P40 and IFN-γ genes and higher expression levels of IL-4 and IL-10 genes, compared to Lt-stimulated cells and non-stimulated cells in responsive groups. There was a negative correlation between IL-12 P40 with IL-10 and IL-1β with IL-10 in ACL Lt-stimulated cells in unresponsive group, while a positive correlation between IL-12 P40 with IL-1β and IL-12 P40 with IFN-γ in ACL Lt-stimulated cells in responsive group. Probably, different immune responses caused by various factors play a major role in the pathogenesis and development of unresponsiveness in ACL patients. The profile and timing of cytokine production correlated well with the treatment outcome of Leishmania infection.