It has been recently shown that severe depression is characterized by immune dysfunctions such as blunted mitogen-induced blast transformation, which is linked to interleukin-2 (IL-2) mechanisms, and to autoimmune responses. In order to explore one of the putative pathophysiological mechanisms underlying both factors, we have measured the predexamethasone and postdexamethasone serum dipeptidyl-peptidase IV (DPP IV) activity in depressed inpatients and normal controls. This enzyme is an important mediator of IL-2-related blast proliferation, and it may play a role in autoimmunity. We found significantly lower DPP IV levels in major depressives as compared with healthy controls, and melancholics exhibited significantly lower enzyme activity than minor depressives. There was a significant negative correlation between serum DPP IV activity and the severity of illness. However, we were unable to detect any significant relationships between DPP IV on the one hand, and mitogen-induced blast transformation, soluble IL-2 receptor accumulation in PHA culture supernatant, total number of leukocytes and lymphocytes, T lymphocytes, CD4+ and CD25+ cells, on the other. Men exhibited significantly higher serum DPP IV levels than women.