To determine the immunologic characteristics of T-cells in local pulmonary lesions of human T-cell lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I) carriers, we investigated lymphocyte surface markers in peripheral blood and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) of 38 HTLV-I carriers, 8 HTLV-I associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP) patients, 44 HTLV-I seronegative patients with pulmonary diseases and 7 healthy volunteers using two-color flow cytometric analysis. In peripheral blood, activated T-cells, CD4+HLA-DR+, CD8+HLA-DR+ and CD3+CD25+, and CD4+CD29+ cells increased significantly in carriers and HAM/TSP patients compared with healthy volunteers and seronegative patients. In BALF, T-cells, especially CD25+ cells, increased significantly in carriers and HAM/TSP patients, compared with healthy volunteers and seronegative patients. These findings indicated that T-cells in the lungs, as well as in peripheral blood, are activated in carriers and HAM/TSP patients. Interestingly, there was dissociation between expression of CD3+CD25+ cells in BALF and peripheral blood from these patients. These results suggest that T-cells activated probably by HTLV-I accumulate in the lungs in some carriers and HAM/TSP patients, and HTLV-I may be involved in the immunologic dysfunction in the lungs of these patients. However, we did not find any correlation between the degree of clinical features and the elevation of CD3+CD25+ cells in BALF, or its characteristic features on chest roentgenograms.