Increasing evidence points to a direct role for T cells in the mediation of the coeliac intestinal lesion. There is good evidence for increased local T-cell reactivity, manifest as increased in T-cell activation in the lamina propria and T-cell proliferation in the epithelial compartment. A likely scenario is that gluten elicits antigen-specific responses by lamina propria T helper cells, probably of the Th1 (inflammatory-mediator) subtype, leading to secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Such cytokines may have direct effects on intestinal enterocytes, as well as mediating indirect effects by upregulation of MHC antigens and by enhancing the activity of cytolytic T cells. Although gluten-specific IEL responses have not been demonstrated by intraepithelial T lymphocytes (IELs), increasing evidence suggests that IELs can act as cytolytic effector cells and hence are likely to exert enteropathic effects under the influence of pro-inflammatory cytokines.