Suppression of cellular immunity following thermal injury may contribute to the high incidence of postburn sepsis. Early excision and skin grafting may remove deleterious local wound factors and prevent immunosuppression. The effect on cellular immunity of early burn wound excision and skin grafting was investigated in an animal model using female Wistar rats. The development of immunosuppression shortly after burn injury was shown by popliteal lymph node assay and a 2,4-dinitrofluorobenzene skin reaction test. Excision and skin grafting 2 days after burn trauma restored parameters to normal. Burned tissue suppresses cellular immunity; this effect is preventable by early excision and skin grafting.