Patients with chronic mucocutaneous candidiasis (CMC) present with persistent infections with the opportunistic yeast Candida. Impaired cell-mediated responses to Candida have been documented in CMC patients, but the defect remains poorly understood. The importance of Th1 cytokines in resistance and Th2 in susceptibility to Candida infections has recently been demonstrated in murine models. In our studies we evaluated production of IL-2 and IFN-gamma (markers of Th1 type responses) as well as IL-4 and IL-6 (Th2 type markers) following stimulation with two kinds of Candida antigens (CAgs), polysaccharide antigens, tetanus toxoid and pokeweed mitogen. Our results demonstrate that CMC patients have impaired cytokine production upon in vitro stimulation with CAgs resulting in low or absent IL-2, increased IL-6 and either absent or increased IFN-gamma production. Cytokine production following stimulation by other antigens was unaltered. The overall cytokine-producing capacity assessed through mitogen stimulation was also intact. Addition of IFN-alpha or IFN-gamma to culture in an attempt to modify cytokine production did not have significant effects. Levels of soluble IL-6 receptors were not increased and could not account for increased IL-6 production. Our studies support the hypothesis that Candida antigens trigger a predominantly Th2 instead of a Th1 cytokine response in patients with CMC.