It is well documented that patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) are unable to clear persistent airway infections in spite of strong local inflammation, suggesting a dysregulation of immunity in CF. We and others have reported previously that T lymphocytes may play a prominent role in this immune imbalance. In the present work, we compared the reactivity of CD3+ T cells obtained from young CF patients in stable clinical conditions (n = 10, aged 9-16.5 years) to age-matched healthy subjects (n = 6, aged 9-13.5 years). Intracellular levels of interferon (IFN)-gamma, interleukin (IL)-2, IL-8 and IL-10 were determined by flow cytometry after whole blood culture. The data identified T lymphocyte subsets producing either low levels (M1) or high levels (M2) of cytokine under steady-state conditions. We found that the production of IFN-gamma and IL-10 by T lymphocytes was similar between young CF patients and healthy subjects. In contrast, after 4 h of activation with PMA and ionomycin, the percentage of T cells producing high levels of IL-2 (M2) was greater in CF patients (P = 0.02). Moreover, T cells from CF patients produced lower levels of IL-8, before and after activation (P = 0.007). We conclude that a systemic immune imbalance is present in young CF patients, even when clinically stable. This disorder is characterized by the capability of circulating T lymphocytes to produce low levels of IL-8 and by the emergence of more numerous T cells producing high levels of IL-2. This imbalance may contribute to immune dysregulation in CF.