In this study we investigated the distribution of the S6F1 antigen, an epitope of the lymphocyte function-associated antigen, on CD8+ T lymphocytes in a series of 15 HIV-1+ and 20 HIV-1- haemophiliac patients. MoAbs recognizing the S6F1 antigen have been claimed to distinguish between killer effectors (brightly S6F1+ stained) and suppressor cells (dimly S6F1+ stained) within the CD8+ lymphoid population. In addition, we tried to find a correlation between the spontaneous in vitro immunoglobulin synthesis from patients' peripheral blood lymphocytes and the pattern of S6F1 expression. Although the total number of double-positive CD8+/S6F1+ cells was similar in both HIV-1+ and HIV-1- haemophiliac patients, a significant increase in the CD8+/S6F1+ population bright versus dim was documented in HIV-1-infected with respect to HIV-1- haemophiliacs (bright/dim ratio 3.97 +/- 0.61 versus 0.75 +/- 0.1, respectively, P < 0.005). This finding was correlated to a significant increase in spontaneous in vitro immunoglobulin production in HIV-1+ subjects compared with control haemophiliacs (P < 0.005). Purified CD8+ lymphocytes from HIV-1+ subjects showed a reduced suppressor activity on mitogen-induced immunoglobulin production. Taken together, these data suggest that HIV-1 infection favours the generation of CD8+/S6F1+ bright cells with putative cytotoxic-associated function, leading to a progressive reduction in the number of CD8+/S6F1+ dim suppressor lymphocytes. This phenomenon may contribute to the polyclonal hypergammaglobulinaemia present in HIV-1+ haemophiliac patients.