We performed a longitudinal analysis of serum IL2, IL6 and TNF alpha concentrations in 40 relapsing remitting MS patients and 20 healthy subjects. Disease activity was quantified by Minimal Record of Disease (M.R.D.) for MS, every 2 or 3 months. IL2, IL6 TNF alpha production was analysed without and with PHA stimulation of whole blood for 2 hours at 37 degrees C. No significant change in IL2 level was found in MS serum. Individual TNF alpha production was significantly increased (P < 0.007) during relapses. The global spontaneous IL6 production was markedly higher in the relapse group than in the control group (P < 0.01) and than in the remission group (P < 0.002) without significant individual variations of cytokine levels regarding the disease activity. Productions of cytokines were enhanced by PHA stimulation, a condition that however suppressed the differences observed without mitogen stimulation. Our data suggest that TNF alpha could be a marker for relapses while IL6 might reflect the global activity of the immune system in MS.