There is accumulating evidence that human T-lymphotropic virus-1 (HTLV-1) infection contributes to the development of various inflammatory disorders. To elucidate the relation between the infection and Sjögren's syndrome, seroepidemiological and virological studies were conducted on patients with this syndrome in Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan, an area heavily endemic for HTLV-1. The HTLV-1 seroprevalence rate among the patients with Sjögren's syndrome (17/74, 23%) was significantly higher than that among blood donors (916/27,284, 3%), whereas the difference between patients with systemic lupus erythematosus and blood donors was insignificant. Moreover, among Sjögren's syndrome patients the seroprevalence was high irrespective of age, unlike that among blood donors, which rose with age. Titres of serum antibodies in the HTLV-1 seropositive patients with Sjögren's syndrome were similar to those among patients with HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP) and significantly higher than those among healthy carriers. IgM class antibodies were commonly detected in the serum of patients with Sjögren's syndrome. However, unlike that in HAM/TSP patients, the viral load in peripheral-blood mononuclear cells was not necessarily high in the seropositive Sjögren syndrome group. Salivary IgA antibodies to HTLV-1 were common among seropositive patients with Sjögren's syndrome (5/7), which might be due to increased viral activity in the salivary glands. These antibodies were barely detectable in HAM/TSP patients (prevalence 1/10) or in healthy carriers (0/11). The findings strongly suggest that HTLV-1 is involved in the pathogenesis of the disease in a subset of patients with Sjögren's syndrome in endemic areas.