Three heteroglycans Ths-4, Ths-5 and thamnolan and a beta-glucan, Ths-2, isolated from the lichen Thamnolia vermicularis var. subuliformis were tested for in vitro immunomodulating activities and shown to have various influences on the immune system. All the polysaccharides except Ths-4 caused a stimulation of rat spleen cell proliferation. In contrast, Ths-4 caused cell death early in the culture, probably due to over-stimulation. Moreover, the galactofuranomannans, Ths-4, Ths-5 and the beta-glucan Ths-2, induced rat spleen cells to secrete IL-10 significantly above background levels. In addition, Ths-4 and Ths-5 stimulated significant TNF-alpha secretion by rat peritoneal macrophages. The galactofuranomannans Ths-4 and Ths-5 have similar structures apart from the molecular weight. Thus, it may be concluded that the molecular size might influence the potency but not the pattern of activity for Ths-4 and Ths-5. The galactofuranorhamnan thamnolan had less mitogenic effect than Ths-5 and Ths-2 and neither induced IL-10 secretion by rat spleen cells nor TNF-alpha secretion by peritoneal macrophages to significant levels. This shows that thamnolan with its unusual galactofuranorhamnan structure differs from the other Thamnolia polysaccharides in its immunomodulatory activity.