The aim of this study was to evaluate the potential role of certain soluble factors in conjunctival scar tissue formation of pemphigoid patients. Epibulbar conjunctival biopsy specimens were taken from patients with acute ulcerative (n = 4), subacute (n = 8) and chronic (n = 8) mucous membrane pemphigoid and from twelve age-matched healthy individuals. The tissues were embedded in glycol methacrylate and analysed by immunohistochemical methods. Interleukin-2 (IL-2), interferon-gamma, transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta), platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), tumour necrosis factor-alpha and proliferating cells (as identified with the antibody Ki-67) were found in both pemphigoid patients and normal controls. Interleukin-4 was not found with this method in either normal or diseased conjunctiva. Significant differences between normal and diseased conjunctiva were found for TGF-beta and for proliferating cells, which were both increased in the acute disease group. More intense staining was found in the subacute disease group for IL-2, bFGF and PDGF. Our findings showed that a variety of cytokines were present in normal and diseased bulbar conjunctiva. Acute conjunctival disease in mucous membrane pemphigoid may indicate active scar tissue formation, implied by an increase in TGF-beta and the presence of proliferating fibroblasts.