The conditioning regimens for autologous SCT (auto-SCT) lead to impairment of the immune system and concomitant increase in susceptibility to infections. We studied the recovery of cellular immunity by in vitro analysis of T-cell proliferation and cytokine production profiles during the first 15 months after auto-SCT in patients with multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. PBMC were collected at 6, 9 and 15 months after transplantation and stimulated with a combination of CD2 and CD28 monoclonal antibodies, with PHA or with tetanus toxoid as recall antigen. A multiplex enzyme linked immunoassay was used to determine levels of Th1 cytokines IL-2, IFN-gamma and tumour-necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), Th2 cytokines IL-4, IL-5 and IL-13, the regulatory cytokine IL-10 and the proinflammatory cytokines IL-1alpha, IL-1beta, IL-6 and the chemokine IL-8. T-cell proliferation progressively increased from 6 to 15 months after auto-SCT. Overall, cytokine production increased after auto-SCT. Production of Th2 cytokines IL-5 and IL-13 was superior to production of Th1 cytokines IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha. We hypothesize that prolonged impairment of IFN-gamma production might contribute to the relatively high incidence of viral infections after auto-SCT.