Ten adult patients with persistent active HHV-6 variant A infection and clinical chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) were studied over a period of 24 months after initial clinical diagnosis. CFS was diagnosed according to IIIP-revised CDC-criteria as defined by the CFS Expert Advisory Group to the German Federal Ministry of Health in 1994. Changes in HHV-6 antibody titer, viral DNA load, peripheral blood T lymphocytes and subpopulations, as well as CD4/CD8 cell ratio and cell death (apoptosis) were monitored. Data were collected for comparison with respective changes in acute HHV-6 infection and as a basis for future computer simulation studies. The results showed variable but slightly elevated numbers of HHV-6 DNA copies in the blood of patients with CFS, while PBL (peripheral blood lymphocyte) apoptosis rates were clearly increased. CD4/CD8 cell ratios varied from below 1 up to values as seen in autoimmune disorders. Contrary to acute HHV-6 infection, T lymphocytes do not exhibit the usual response to HHV-6, that is elevation of mature and immature populations suggesting a certain degree of unresponsiveness. The data suggest that persistent low-dose stimulation by HHV-6 may favor imbalanced immune response rather than overt immune deficiency. This hypothesis requires confirmation through additional functional studies.