ZAP-70 deficiency is a rare primary immunodeficiency characterized by the absence of peripheral CD8+ T cells and defects in T-cell receptor (TCR) signalling. T cells in ZAP-70-deficient patients are assumed to have no helper functions for B-cell immunoglobulin synthesis, whereas the patients rarely have antigen-specific antibodies. We experienced a ZAP-70-deficient patient, who had immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies specific to food allergens, and we investigated the mechanisms of switching to IgE in the patient. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from the patient did not proliferate upon stimulation with the antigens but produced distinct levels of interleukin-4 (IL-4). Cell sorting analysis indicated that the cells that produced IL-4 in response to the antigens were enriched in CD4+ T cells. Purified CD4+ T cells from the patient produced IL-4 and expressed CD40L upon stimulation with anti-CD3. Moreover, CD4+ T cells pretreated with anti-CD3 induced mature ε transcript on naive B cells. Since the results indicated that there remained sufficient T-cell receptor (TCR)-signalling in the patient's T cells to exert antigen-specific IgE switching on B cells, we next investigated the expression of the ZAP-70-homologous kinase Syk. Syk was present in high levels in patient's CD4+ T cells and was tyrosine-phosphorylated after TCR stimulation. Inhibition of Syk by piceatannol resulted in decreased production of IL-4 and expression of CD40L on patient's CD4+ T cells. Moreover, Syk was expressed on all human T-cell leukaemia virus (HTLV-1)-transformed T-cell lines derived from peripheral blood of the patient, whereas it was low or undetectable in control lines. It was therefore concluded that specific IgE responses in the patient were most likely to be mediated by Syk-dependent TCR-signalling.