ABSTRACT: We have previously described the purification procedure for syncytiotrophoblast plasma membranes (STPM) and have now studied their immunomodulatory properties on the in vitro cytotoxic assays of generated cytotoxic T-lymphocytes (CTL) and natural killer cells (NK). STPM inhibited the cytolytic activities of CTL and NK against their target cells, whereas RBC ghosts, even at the highest protein concentration used, were ineffective. This inhibitory effect was dose-dependent upon the STPM-protein concentration and appeared to be particularly distinct at low effector/ target ratios. It is hypothesized that the inhibitory activity of STPM may be exerted by blocking the effector cells or by masking their targets. Regardless of the mode of action, since cytotoxic cell activities are known to play an important role in the allograft rejection process, this suppressive inhibitory effect of STPM might be a crucial mechanism in the tolerance of the semiallogenic fetal graft.