The study was undertaken to elucidate the sequence of appearance of T helper (Th)1- and Th2-type cytokines in human peripheral blood leucocyte cultures infected in vitro with dengue type 2 virus. Commercial sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay kits were used to assay the levels of tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma), interleukin (IL)-2, IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, and IL-10 in culture supernatants. Culture supernatants were also screened for the cytotoxic factor and the dengue virus titres determined. The cytokines that appeared in the culture supernatants on the first day post-infection (p.i.) were cytotoxic factor, TNF-alpha, IL-2, and IL-6; their levels were highest on the second day p.i. IFN-gamma appeared on the second day with a peak on the third day p.i. The levels of these cytokines declined quickly, except for human cytotoxic factor (hCF) and IL-2. The cytokines that appeared later were IL-10 and IL-5 on the fourth day and IL-4 on the sixth day p.i. Dengue virus replicated in the peripheral blood leucocyte (PBL) cultures and was present throughout the course of the study. The findings of the present study show that dengue virus induced a predominant Th1-type cytokine response during the first 3 days of infection of PBL cultures that was replaced by a Th2-type response later.