Serum and CSF from 32 patients with idiopathic ALS, 30 age-matched controls and 30 MS patients were investigated regarding immunoglobulin concentration and virus-specific antibodies, the lymphocytes in the peripheral blood and lymphocyte subsets were also investigated. ALS patients' results were compared with findings in MS and controls. The ALS patients had significantly higher IgG concentration in serum than the controls, marked lymphopenia, reduction of CD2, CD8 and Leu 7 positive cells and increase of the CD4/CD8 ratio and of SIg-positive lymphocytes. Compared with the MS patients, the ALS patients showed similarity in T-subset distribution with a lower standard deviation. No HTLV-I and HIV antibodies were found in any group and no significant differences in antibody distribution to Toxoplasma G, herpes simplex, cytomegalovirus, measles and mumps viruses were evident. All ALS patients were investigated at an early disease stage, therefore, our findings seem to support the conclusion that the immune alterations are related to the mechanisms of the disease and not to complications of its evolution.