The relative amounts of different pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines released at the site of infection by bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) cells may influence the presentation of tuberculosis. To investigate this hypothesis the in situ release by BAL cells of the following cytokines was measured and correlated with the chest X-ray findings of 43 patients with pulmonary tuberculosis: interleukin (IL)-8, macrophage inflammatory protein-1alpha (MIP-1alpha), IL-6, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta), interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma), IL-2, IL-4 and IL-5. The release of IL-8 and IL-6 decreased with the progression of the disease, while the release of MIP-1alpha was increased in patients with advanced tuberculosis. The release of TNF-alpha and TGF-beta did not differ between patients with or without cavitary lesions. The Th1 (IFN-gamma and IL-2) and Th2 (IL-4 and IL-5) cytokine release exhibited a gradual increment with the advance of tuberculosis. Thus, our data provide evidence that a Th0 cytokine pattern is predominant at the site of pulmonary tuberculosis. In conclusion, immunoparalysis status could not be observed in our patients with severe tuberculosis.