This study was performed to investigate whether gamma delta T cells could also be divided into subsets, identified by a cytokine profile, as described for alpha beta T helper (Th) cell subsets. Cytokine production was studied in 22 gamma delta T cell clones obtained from the synovial fluid and peripheral blood of one patient with inflammatory arthritis and compared to that of 26 alpha beta T cell clones of the same and different patients. Interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) was produced by 18 (82%) and interleukin-4 (IL-4) by 17 (77%) out of 22 gamma delta T cell clones, respectively. In contrast, IL-10 was not produced, except at very low level in one case. The mean levels of IL-4 were lower for clones derived from synovial fluid. When considering the production of IFN-gamma as an indicator of Th1 and that of IL-4 as an indicator of Th2, respectively, the most common pattern was a gamma delta Th1-like pattern, with the combination of high levels of IFN-gamma and low levels of IL-4. This pattern was found in V delta 1+ clones, all from synovial fluid. Additional patterns were also observed: a mixed, probably gamma delta Th0-like pattern with a more balanced production of both IFN-gamma and IL-4; a gamma delta Th1 pattern with the production of IFN-gamma alone; a gamma delta Th2 pattern with the production of IL-4 alone. These three patterns were also seen in blood gamma delta T cells which were all V delta 2, indicating that these patterns were independent of the V delta phenotype. gamma delta T cell clones produced lower levels of IFN-gamma (p = 0.001) and higher levels of IL-4 than alpha beta clones (p < 0.02). These differences in cytokine production between alpha beta and gamma delta subsets and within these subsets may contribute to their respective role in chronic inflammation.