Studies from women with recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis (RVVC) and from an animal model of experimental vaginitis suggest that deficiencies in immune function should be examined at the local rather than systemic level. Evidence of vaginal cell-mediated immunity (CMI) was evaluated for the first time in cervicovaginal lavage (CVL) fluid from RVVC patients. Results showed that although constitutive Th1- and Th2-type cytokine expression was detectable in CVL fluid from normal women, and differences in cytokines were observed in RVVC patients, limitations in experimental design of such de novo analyses urged caution in interpretation. Alternatively, attempts were made to establish conditions in control subjects whereby vaginal immunity could be detected after intravaginal challenge with Candida antigen. Preliminary results showed that Th1-type cytokines (interleukin-2 and -12, interferon-gamma) and histamine were increased 16-18 h after intravaginal introduction of Candida skin test antigen. Intravaginal antigenic challenge represents a novel approach for studying Candida-specific vaginal CMI.