The elderly suffer from an impaired immune function being obvious in a higher susceptibility to infections. Especially the rate of complications after infection with Salmonella, normally confined to the gastrointestinal tract, is raised. We compared in a whole blood assay and in vitro stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) the secretion of interleukin (IL)-1-beta, IL-6, IL-8 and TNF-alpha, after stimulation with lipopolysaccharid (LPS) from Salmonella abortus equi and Escherichia coli, phytohaemagglutinin (PHA) and toxic shock syndrome toxin-1 (TSST-1) by leukocytes of healthy young donors, healthy elderly and healthy elderly fulfilling the SENIEUR protcol. Significantly higher secretion of IL-1-beta, IL-6 and IL-8 after stimulation with LPS were found in the SENIEUR elderly compared to young donors. IL-1-beta, IL-6 and IL-8 were elevated in the whole blood samples of the healthy elderly controls as well. After stimulation of whole blood samples from these healthy elderly with LPS, IL-1 and IL-6 secretion was significantly elevated, but stimulation of their PBMCs showed lower amounts of produced cytokines compared to the PBMCs of healthy young donors. The results suggest that the elvated cytokine releases are caused by an interaction of LPS with a serum factor in the blood of the elderly. Such an overproduction of these inflammatory cytokines by moncytes and neutrophils may be in part responsible for many symptoms elderly people suffer from during an infection with Salmonella.