It is clear that mannan has the potential to influence multiple biologic functions in vivo and in vitro, including both mannan-specific and mannan-nonspecific activities. Based on in vitro studies, various mechanisms have been proposed for the regulatory activities observed, ranging from interference with normal PMNL and monocyte function to the induction of T suppressor cells. It may well be, in fact, that different mechanisms function at different levels depending upon the specific phenomenon being influenced. Approaches to determining the mechanisms involved in these regulatory phenomena, however, have been complicated by the fact that many studies were performed with mannan extracted in the laboratory by traditional methods and used as such without further purification. Most laboratory-acquired mannans appear to be heterogeneous mixtures containing polymers of differing size and charge. When such mixtures have been separated on the basis of size or charge, it has been shown that biologic function can be correlated with individual fractions, and that a single bulk preparation of mannan can contain components with opposing biologic activities. Resolution of the specific mechanisms involved in the regulatory phenomena described, therefore, will not be complete until homogeneous preparations of mannan are employed to investigate the mechanisms.