Vaccination of healthy adults with recombinant hepatitis B (rHB) vaccine fails to induce a protective antibody response in a proportion of individuals. Imbalanced T-helper (Th)1/Th2 response has been attributed to the lack of specific antibody response to rHB vaccine. In this study, in vitro production of interleukin (IL)-2, interferon (IFN)-gamma and IL-10 was investigated in Iranian healthy adults vaccinated with rHB vaccine. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were isolated from 18 high responders and eight nonresponders and stimulated with rHB antigen or phytohaemaglutinin (PHA) mitogen. The cytokines were quantitated in culture supernatants by sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Our results demonstrated a significant decrease in the production of IL-2, IFN-gamma and IL-10 (P < 0.005) in response to rHB antigen. The levels of all cytokines induced by PHA were similarly represented in both groups of vaccinees. These findings suggest that unresponsiveness to rHB vaccine may be owing to inadequate Th1- and Th2-like cytokine production.