Trichomonas vaginalis infection may be influenced by the vaginal concentrations of estrogens. We have investigated the effects of 17beta-estradiol and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) on the ecto-5'-nucleotidase activity in fresh clinical (VP60) and in long-term-grown (30236 ATCC) isolates of T. vaginalis. In vitro exposure to DHEAS and 17beta-estradiol did not induce any changes in adenosine monophosphate (AMP) hydrolysis in these isolates. The treatment of parasites in the presence of DHEAS (0.01-1.0 microM) for 2 h inhibited AMP hydrolysis in VP60 isolate, whereas there were no significant changes in nucleotide hydrolysis in the presence of 17beta-estradiol. DHEAS and 17beta-estradiol (0.01-1.0 microM) for 2 h inhibited AMP hydrolysis in 30236 isolate. The 12 treatment with 0.1 microM DHEAS inhibited AMP hydrolysis, whereas 17beta-estradiol did not alter the nucleotide hydrolysis in VP60 isolate. Our findings have shown that the complex effect of steroid hormones and their receptors on T. vaginalis may promote changes in ecto-5'-nucleotidase activity during exposure to these hormones.