Multiple sclerosis (MS) is one of the most common causes of neurological disability in young and middle-aged adults and is thought to be mediated by autoreactive T cells. Activities of adenosine deaminase (ADA) and 5'(nucleotidase (5'NT), which are involved in the differentiation and maturation of the lymphoid system, were measured in peripheral blood T cells from 21 MS patients and in 23 age and sex matched healthy controls to determine whether an association existed between these enzyme abnormalities and cellular immune functions. ADA and 5'NT activities were found significantly decreased in MS patients (P < .001 and P < .01 respectively) when compared with controls. Low levels of ADA and 5'NT activities were found irrespective of whether patients had relapsing-remitting or chronic progressive MS. These findings suggest that low levels of these enzyme activities in T cells may be related to the persistent abnormalities in T cell function in the clinical course of MS.