To investigate the role of CD26 in the immune system, CD26 gene knockout mice with C57BL/6 background were used to study the immune response after stimulation with PWM. CD26(-/-) mice display an apparently normal phenotype. However, in their spleen lymphocyte population the percentage of CD4(+) T cells is lower, and that of NK cells is higher, than that in CD26(+/+) mice. In their peripheral blood, CD26(-/-) mice present a conspicuously decreased proportion of CD4(+) NKT lymphocytes. In vitro, the PWM-stimulated IL-4 production was decreased by 60-80% in the supernatants of spleen lymphocytes of CD26(-/-) mice compared to that of CD26(+/+) mice, whereas levels of IL-10 and IFN-gamma were increased. No significant differences were found in the production of IL-2, IL-5, IL-6 and IL-13 between knockout and wild-type mice. After immunization of mice with PWM in vivo, serum levels of total IgG, IgG1, IgG2a and IgE were markedly lower in CD26(-/-) mice than those in CD26(+/+) mice, while no difference was found in IgM production. Further analysis of cytokine levels in vivo revealed a reduced IL-4, IL-2 and delayed IFN-gamma production in sera of CD26(-/-) mice upon immunization with PWM. These results indicate that CD26 contributes to the regulation of development, maturation and migration of CD4(+) T, NK and NKT cells, cytokine secretion, T cell-dependent antibody production and immunoglobulin isotype switching of B cells.