This study was designed to determine the effect of Type II diabetes mellitus in older adults on two measures of the cell-mediated immune response to influenza vaccination. Twenty-two elderly persons with diabetes mellitus were compared to 20 healthy seniors, all of whom were living independently in the community. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were challenged in vitro with live influenza virus, pre-vaccination and 4 and 12 weeks post-vaccination. PBMC culture supernatants were assayed for IL-2 activity as a measure of the helper T-cell response to vaccination. The cytotoxic T-lymphocyte response was determined using an assay of granzyme B activity in PBMC lysates. Initial analysis of the data showed increased IL-2 production in post-vaccination PBMC cultures from the diabetic group compared to the healthy group. However, when vaccination histories were used in an analysis of variance, it was found that the difference between the two groups was related to vaccination history. Study subjects vaccinated one year prior to participation in this study compared to those who had not been previously vaccinated, demonstrated a significantly suppressed IL-2 response to vaccination. Type II diabetes mellitus had no effect on the IL-2 response to vaccination. The granzyme B response to vaccination was not significantly affected by previous vaccination and results were similar for the healthy and diabetic elderly groups.