Expression of the gamma/delta T-cell receptor (TcR) for antigen on CD3+ intraepithelial lymphocytes (IEL) was studied in situ by two-colour immunofluorescence on jejunal tissue sections from 24 patients with coeliac disease and 17 controls. The proportion of intraepithelial TcR gamma/delta+ cells was significantly increased (P less than 0.002) in untreated (median 20%, range 11-53%) as well as in treated (gluten-free diet) coeliac disease (median 23%, range 16-55%) compared with controls (median 2%, range 0-39%). Although TcR alpha/beta+ IEL dominated both in controls and coeliac disease, T cells expressing the TcR gamma/delta were preferentially located within the epithelium rather than in the lamina propria. Paired staining for TcR gamma/delta and CD8 revealed that most (approximately 90%) intraepithelial TcR gamma/delta+ lymphocytes in coeliac disease were CD8-. A remarkably large fraction (median 67%, range 58-94%) of intraepithelial TcR gamma/delta+ cells expressed the V delta 1/J delta 1-encoded epitope revealed by monoclonal antibody delta TCS1. Our results suggested that increase of the intraepithelial TcR gamma/delta+ CD8- subset of T cells is particularly related to coeliac disease.