Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a common inflammatory skin disease. In AD, cytokines such as interleukin (IL)-4 or interferon (IFN)-gamma are considered to affect the disease status. Recently, human V alpha 24(+) natural killer T (NKT) cells have been found to produce large amounts of IL-4 and IFN-gamma. Thus there is a possibility that the proportion of V alpha 24(+) NKT cells modifies the AD status. In this study, we examine the proportion of the V alpha 24(+)/V beta 11(+) cells that composes the V alpha 24(+) NKT cells in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from 71 healthy donors (HDs) and 31 AD patients. Because CD4(-) and CD4(+) NKT subsets show different cytokine production patterns concerning IL-4, these two subsets are evaluated. Our results have shown that the proportion of the V alpha 24(+) NKT cells is markedly reduced in AD patients. In addition, the CD4(-) V alpha 24(+) NKT subset has a tendency to be more reduced than the CD4(+) V alpha 24(+) NKT subset. Moreover, the proportion of CD4(-) V alpha 24(+) NKT(+) cells and Th2 deviation of Th1/Th2 balance is inversely correlated. These observations may contribute to the understanding of the mechanism involved in AD.