Because of recent interest in the effects of physical exercise on immunologic function, we decided to use state-of-the-art methods to evaluate cytokines in the peripheral blood leukocytes (PBLs) of 7 men before and after a maximal treadmill stress test. Change in cytokine gene expression was quantified from PBLs using a reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction assay (RT-PCR). In contrast to reports on serum levels or using in vitro testing, direct gene expression of TNF-alpha decreased after the stress test (p < 0.008). However, the 47% decrease was relatively small and of questionable biological significance. Levels of IL-1a, IL-1b, IL-2, IL-4, IL-6, IL-10, and INF-gamma did not change.