It has been suggested that impaired cell-mediated immunity (CMI) against Candida antigens is responsible for susceptibility to recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis (RVVC) in adult women. To address this, we conducted a comprehensive longitudinal study examining in vivo and in vitro systemic CMI reactivity in RVVC patients. Results showed that RVVC patients frequently demonstrated a transient loss of Candida-specific delayed cutaneous skin test reactivity during episodes of symptomatic vaginitis. In contrast, in vitro peripheral blood lymphoproliferation and Th1-type lymphokine production by RVVC patients in response to a T cell mitogen and multiple Candida and bacterial antigens were similar to controls both during acute episodes of vaginitis and during periods of infection-free remission. These results suggest that women with RVVC have no detectable impairment of systemic CMI in peripheral blood and that transient reductions in skin test reactivity appear to be a result of vaginal Candida infection and not a predisposing factor to RVVC.