In order to study the role of gamma/delta T cells in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in humans, we measured the percentage of these cells in the peripheral blood, assessed the ratio of the non-disulphide-linked (delta TCS1) type of T cell receptor (TCR) in the total gamma/delta T cells, studied the co-expression of gamma/delta TCR and accessory molecules CD8 and CD16, and compared these data with both the type and the activity of the disease. Percentage levels and absolute numbers of gamma/delta+ T cells were higher in active patients than in controls (P < 0.05), mainly as a result of an increase of V delta 1+ (delta TCS1) T cell subset (P < 0.05). This trend was strongly retained independently of disease activity and clinical picture. An increased percentage of TCR delta 1+/CD16+ cells was observed in our patients compared with controls (P < 0.05). In contrast, no difference was observed as far as the TCR delta 1+/CD8+ cells were concerned. These results suggest that IBD is associated with an expansion of gamma/delta T cells in peripheral blood, which may play a role in the pathogenesis of these disorders.