Fifty consecutive patients undergoing resection of colorectal cancer were randomized to either receive cimetidine at a dose of 400 mg bd for a minimum of 5 pre-operative days, then intravenously for 2 postoperative days, or to act as controls. Baseline immune function was determined in all patients by in vitro testing of lymphocyte proliferation (LP) in response to mitogen, skin testing for cell mediated immunity (CMI) and measurement of lymphocyte subsets. Immune function was retested in both groups on the second postoperative day. In control patients the mean postoperative LP value was 41% of pre-operative levels (P < 0.0001) and the mean CMI reduced to 29% (P < 0.0001). Patients treated with cimetidine had no significant fall in these parameters. Numbers of T and natural killer (NK) cells fell after surgery in both groups, and B cell numbers were maintained in the cimetidine group. It is concluded that cimetidine reduces the immunosuppression that follows colonic resection.