In recent years, Spirulina has gained more and more attention from medical scientists as a nutraceutical and a source of potential pharmaceuticals. The present study was conducted to elucidate the immunomodulatory effect of Spirulina fusiformis (a cyanobacterium of the family Oscillatoriaceae) in vivo and in vitro. The in vivo effect of S. fusiformis (400 or 800 mg/kg body wt.) on humoral immune response, cell-mediated immune response and tumour necrosis factor alpha was investigated in mice. We also evaluated the effect of S. fusiformis (50 or 100 microg/ml) in vitro on mitogen (phytohaemagglutinin)-induced T lymphocyte proliferation in heparinized human peripheral blood. For comparison, dexamethasone was used as a standard. In mice, S. fusiformis (400 or 800 mg/kg body wt.) administration significantly inhibited the humoral immune response, cell-mediated immune response (delayed-type hypersensitivity reaction (DTH)) and tumour necrosis factor alpha in a dose-dependent manner. In vitro, S. fusiformis (50 or 100 microg/ml) decreased the mitogen (phytohaemagglutinin)-induced T lymphocyte proliferation in a concentration-dependent manner when compared with control cells. These observations clearly suggest that S. fusiformis has a remarkable immunosuppressive effect, which provides a scientific validation for the popular use of this drug, and helped us in further work on investigating its complete mechanism of action.