Phenotypic and functional properties of gammadelta T cells, which play an important role in mucocutaneous immunity, were examined to elucidate whether immunological abnormality in Behcet's disease may be related to a specific T cell population. We found that CD45RA+ Vgamma9+ Vdelta2+ gammadelta T cells, which constitute a minor population of gammadelta T cells in healthy individuals, were increased in number in Behçet's disease irrespective of disease activity. This CD45RA+ subset of gammadelta T cells in the active, but not inactive, phase of this disease expressed IL-2Rbeta and HLA-DR, suggesting that they are activated in vivo in active Behçet's disease. In addition, the CD45RA+ gammadelta T cells produced extreme amounts of tumour necrosis factor and contained perforin granules. These data indicate that a phenotypically distinct subset of gammadelta T cells, CD45RA+ CD45RO- Vgamma9+ Vdelta2+, may contribute to immunological abnormalities which may lead to complexity of pathophysiology in Behçet's disease.