It remains unclear which MHC loci are involved in susceptibility to autoimmune diseases and immune deficiencies. We have chosen to evaluate whether different alleles of tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) are important, as TNF has been implicated in the etiology of many immunological disorders. We have shown previously that a restriction fragment length polymorphism in the TNF region correlates with MHC ancestral haplotypes. We therefore examined the effect of ancestral haplotype on the activity of TNF-alpha in culture supernatants of lymphoblastoid cell lines. The results demonstrate that TNF-alpha activity in supernatants of 8.1 (A1, B8, DR3) cell lines was higher than that present in the supernatants from cells homozygous for eight different MHC ancestral haplotypes, and indicate that polymorphisms in TNF-alpha, or in other MHC genes that regulate TNF, may be responsible for the 8.1 phenotype.