The response rate and HBsAG antibody concentrations were examined after hepatitis B vaccination in 78 hemodialysis patients aged between 29 and 79 years. The values were related to age, duration of hemodialysis, body weight, creatinine, urea nitrogen, serum concentrations of beta 2-microglobulin and soluble interleukin-2 receptor (IL-2R). Patients with low anti-HBsAG antibody concentrations (10-100 mU/ml) had significantly higher IL-2R serum concentrations than those with high anti-HBsAG antibody concentrations (greater than 3,000 mU/ml; p less than 0.05). Discriminant multivariate analysis (p = 0.032) revealed the influence (62%) of IL-2R on the response rate while other factors were similar in all patient groups. It is concluded that preactivation of T cells with an increased release of IL-2R may contribute to impaired immune response after hepatitis B vaccination.