Protein-energy malnutrition is the primary cause of immune deficiency in children across the world. It has been related to changes in peripheral T-lymphocyte subsets. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effects of infection and malnutrition on the proportion of peripheral-lymphocyte subsets in well-nourished non-bacterium-infected (WN), well-nourished bacterium-infected (WNI), and malnourished bacterium-infected (MNI) children by flow cytometry. A prospectively monitored cohort of 15 MNI, 12 WNI, and 17 WN children was studied. All the children were 3 years old or younger and had only bacterial infections. Results showed a significant decrease in the proportion of T CD3(+) (P < 0.05 for relative and P < 0.03 for absolute values), CD4(+) (P < 0.01 for relative and absolute values), and CD8(+) (P < 0.05 for relative values) lymphocyte subsets in WNI children compared to the results seen with WN children. Additionally, B lymphocytes in MNI children showed significant lower values (CD20(+) P < 0.02 for relative and P < 0.05 for absolute values) in relation to the results seen with WNI children. These results suggest that the decreased proportions of T-lymphocyte subsets observed in WNI children were associated with infection diseases and that the incapacity to increase the proportion of B lymphocyte was associated with malnutrition. This low proportion of B lymphocytes may be associated with the mechanisms involved in the immunodeficiency of malnourished children.