Wegener's granulomatosis initially affects upper respiratory tract organs including the nasal mucosa in more than 90% of patients. The inflammation is typically granulomatous with associated vasculitis. T lymphocytes are usually a prominent component of the leucocyte infiltrate. Previous studies using peripheral blood T cells have implicated IFN-γ rich Th1-type responses. This study addressed the cytokine milieu in nasal mucosa from 10 patients with active Wegener's granulomatosis using immunohistochemistry. Increased levels of CD3+ T cells and eosinophils were present compared with normal and disease controls. There was increased expression of IL-4, down-regulation of IL-2 and no detectable IFN-γ. There was increased expression of the chemokine receptor CCR3 by infiltrating cells, consistent with an IL-4 dominant, Th2-biased response. In contrast, renal biopsy tissue from 10 patients with active Wegener's granulomatosis showed expression of IL-2 and IL-4. The Th2-type environment within nasal mucosa, often the initial site of disease activity in Wegener's, is consistent with a local allergic response in these patients.