The T cell receptor of gamma delta is normally expressed on a small percentage of peripheral lymphocytes. Although the role of gamma delta T cells in the physiologic immune response is still unknown, there is accumulating evidence that gamma delta T cells may participate in the immune response to mycobacterial and other infectious organisms. In this study, we have quantitated the number of circulating gamma delta T cells during acute Plasmodium falciparum malaria. The results indicate that gamma delta T cells are elevated during the acute infection and remain elevated for at least 4 weeks during convalescence. T cells may participate in the immune response against P. falciparum by functioning as non-MHC restricted cytotoxic cells against intraerythrocytic parasites. Alternatively, lymphokines may be produced on antigen stimulation which may have antiparasitic activity.