To investigate the pathogenic role of cell-mediated immunity (CMI) in acute severe asthma, 10 patients with acute asthma requiring admission to hospital had measurements of serum and urine absolute neopterin and neopterin/creatinine ratios. Serum was collected upon entry to hospital, 24 hr later and at 2 weeks; and urine at 24 hr and at 2 weeks after admission. Comparisons were made with 12 stable asthmatic patients, healthy control subjects, and six renal transplant patients undergoing transplant rejection. In contrast to the renal transplant patients who demonstrated T-lymphocyte-macrophage activation, neopterin concentrations and neopterin/creatinine ratios in both acute and stable asthmatic patients were not elevated. We have not found functional evidence that CMI participates in the pathogenesis of acute severe asthma.