One, as yet unemployed, approach to investigating immunology in depression is the assessment of the cytokine production by leucocytes, which would allow the determination of immune response under standardized conditions. Thus we measured the production of mitogen-induced cytokines (IL-1 beta, IL-2, IL-6, IL-10, interferon-gamma) and sIL-2R in a whole blood assay, and serum protein levels such as C-reactive protein (CRP), haptoglobin (Hp) and alpha 2-macroglobulin (alpha 2 M) in a longitudinal 6-week study in an attempt to assess leucocyte function during and after acute clinical stage of depression in 39 patients. Shortly after admission to hospital we found higher levels of all measured cytokines in the patients. Serum protein levels were significantly higher in the patients than in controls, and decreased over the study period. Whereas slightly elevated monokine levels in patients tended to reach control values, lymphokines showed a significant decrease over the 6 weeks as compared to baseline. These results suggest that the increase in immune activity seen at the beginning of the study may be followed by a suppressed cell-mediated immune function.