Host resistance to disease is dependent upon a number of factors. Recent evidence indicates that natural killer (NK) cells play an important role in resistance to both neoplastic and virally induced disease. Treatment of C57Bl/6 mice with methionine-enkephalin (1, 3, 10, or 30 mg/kg body weight) results in significant increases in NK activity of splenic lymphocytes 20 hours after injection of the enkephalin. Enkephalin treatment also enhances host resistance. The short-term survival of A/J female mice after HSV-2 infection was significantly increased by daily subcutaneous injections (3 mg/kg body weight) of methionine-enkephalin. Similarly, daily doses of 50 micrograms of methionine-enkephalin for 7 to 14 days inhibit the local subcutaneous tumor growth of B15 melanoma in C57Bl/6 mice.