It has long been suspected that pentachlorophenol (PCP) exerts a damaging influence on the immune system. In this study, the possible relationship between blood levels of PCP and immune function was studied in 190 patients who had been exposed for more than 6 mo to PCP-containing pesticides. The patients suffered from frequent respiratory infections and general fatigue. Lymphocyte subpopulations, in-vitro responses to mitogens, allogeneic stimulator cells, plasma neopterin, cytokines, soluble cytokine receptors, soluble adhesion molecules, and immunoglobulin autoantibodies were determined. A dose-response relationship between blood levels of PCP and cellular and humoral immune parameters was established. Blood levels of PCP were associated negatively with (a) total lymphocyte counts (p = .0002), CD4/CD8 ratios (p = .0015), and absolute counts of CD3+ (p < .0001), CD4+ (p < .0001), CD16+ (p < .0001), CD25+ (p = .0003), DR+ (p < .0001), CD8+/56+ (p = .020), and CD19+ cells (p = .092); (b) plasma levels of interleukin-2 (IL-2) (p < .0001), soluble IL-2R (p < .0001), IL-6 (p < .0001), IL-10 (p = .0039), interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) (p < .0001), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) (p < .0001), transforming-growth factor-beta2 (p = .023), soluble IL-1 receptor antagonist (sIL-1 RA) (p < .0001), soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (p = .0003); and (c) immunoglobulin (Ig) M-anti-Fab type autoantibodies (p = .0353). PCP levels were associated positively with (a) number of impaired stimulation assays per patient (p = .041); (b) number of circulating CD11b+ monocytes (p = .0015); and (c) plasma levels of neopterin (p < .0001), IL-4 (p = .020), and sIL-6R (p = .020). Compared with patients who had PCP plasma levels that were less than or equal to 10 microg/l, patients with blood levels of PCP that exceeded 10 microg/l experienced the following more often: low numbers of total blood lymphocytes (p = .054), CD3+ (p = .0014), CD4+ (p = .0001), DR+ (p = .0003), CD16+ (p = .0033), and CD25+ cells (p = .0033). In addition, the same aforementioned patients experienced the following more frequently: undetectable plasma levels of IL-2 (p = .0057), IL-6 (p = .042), IL-8 (p = .038), IL-10 (p = .0001), TNF-alpha (p = .0062), and IFN-gamma (p = .016); and impaired in-vitro responses of lymphocytes (p = .071). The authors concluded that increased blood levels of PCP were associated significantly with cellular and humoral immunodeficiencies. Recurrent respiratory infections and general fatigue could originate from PCP-associated immunosuppression.