Mumie, a semihard black resin formed by long-term humification, is believed to have therapeutic properties. Although mumie has been used in folk medicine since ancient times, there is little information available concerning the physicochemical properties of its constituents and the mechanisms of its therapeutic efficacy. For this study crude mumie was fractionated into fulvic acid (FA), humic acid (HA), humin, hymatomelanic acid, and two low molecular weight fractions (LMW1 and LMW2). The FA fraction was divided into five subfractions, FA1-FA5. The mumie fractions were characterized by IR, UV-vis, and fluorescence spectroscopy. Total carbohydrate content in the fractions was analyzed using the phenol reaction method. The relative content of polar groups and nonpolar hydrocarbon fragments in the mumie fractions correlated well with solubility in an aqueous medium. Biological characterization was performed using only the FA fractions. FA1 and FA2 enhanced the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and nitric oxide in murine peritoneal macrophages, as determined with the use of 2',7'-dichlorofluorescin diacetate and Griess reagent, respectively. The enchancement of ROS and nitric oxide production correlated with the level of total carbohydrates in the fractions. Murine splenic lymphocytes treated with FA1 showed a dose-dependent increase in [(3)H]thymidine uptake. These findings suggest that FA derived from mumie has immunomodulatory activity.