The ability of salivary gland extract (SGE) of Aedes aegypti to modulate cellular immune responses was investigated in a mouse model. Cytokine production was induced in naive and antigen-primed murine (BALB/c) spleen cells in vitro by stimulation with the T cell mitogen concanavalin A or the T cell-dependent antigen ovalbumin (OVA), respectively. Inclusion of Ae. aegypti SGE in in vitro culture with naive cells caused significant suppression of the cytokines interleukin-2 (IL-2) and interferon gamma in culture supernatants, while levels of other cytokines (IL-4 and IL-5) were unaffected by SGE. In contrast, SGE did not affect cytokine production by antigen-activated cells derived from OVA-primed mice. To determine whether SGE could inhibit the responsiveness of cells to exogenous cytokine stimuli, optimized quantities of lymphocyte growth factor cytokines IL-2 and IL-4 were added to SGE-treated spleen cells and the degree of cellular prolifer ation was determined. Cellular proliferation in response to IL-2 was markedly suppressed by prior exposure of cells to SGE, while the proliferative response to IL-4 was also affected by SGE but to a lesser extent. These results confirm that mosquito SGE can modulate host immune responses, and suggest that in Ae. aegypti modulation is directed primarily against cytokines associated with type 1 lymphocyte responses. The mode of immunomodulation and the possible relevance of these results to vector-borne disease research are discussed.