Interleukin-1 beta (IL-1 beta), interleukin-2 (IL-2), and interleukin-6 (IL-6) were measured in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and plasma of 12 control subjects, 11 sporadic Alzheimer's disease (AD) and 22 de novo Parkinson's disease (PD) patients using high sensitivity enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA). IL-1 beta and IL-6 contents were significantly elevated in the CSF of de novo PD and AD patients in comparison to the control group. In contrast, the plasma levels were not significantly affected. IL-2 contents in the CSF and plasma samples were unchanged in the three groups compared. Because the two cytokines IL-1 beta and IL-6 are known to play a key role in the interaction between the nervous and immune system, e.g. in the so-called acute phase response, our results support the involvement of immunological events in the complex process of neurodegeneration in AD and PD.