The lymphocyte subsets in the peripheral blood of healthy Malaysian adults (212 subjects, age 18-71 years) were analysed using a flow cytometer FACScan in an effort to establish a reference range for the lymphocyte subsets. The lymphocyte subsets studied were T cells (CD3), B cells (CD19), natural killer (NK) cells (CD3- CD16+/CD56+), helper/inducer cells (CD4), cytotoxic/suppressor cells (CD8) and the helper/suppressor ratio (CD4/CD8). The distributions of T cells, CD4 cells and CD8 cells were symmetric about their means while B cells, NK cells and CD4/CD8 ratio followed a skewed distribution. Differences in race were observed for T cells, NK cells, CD4 cells and CD4/CD8 ratio where the Indians were significantly different from the Malays and the Chinese (higher T cells, CD4 cells and CD4/CD8 ratio and lower NK cells). The B cells were significantly lower in the Chinese than the Malays and the Indians. Age differences were seen only in the Chinese where increased CD4 cells and CD4/CD8 ratio, and decreased CD8 cells were observed. A sex difference was observed only in the Chinese where the CD4/CD8 ratio was significantly higher in females than males.