The effect of mantle and paraaortic radiation on peripheral blood lymphocytes was studied in 11 previously untreated patients with early stage Hodgkin's disease using a series of monoclonal antibodies defining immunoregulatory lymphoid cells. Immediately following the completion of radiotherapy, there was a significant reduction in the number of lymphocytes and the percent of circulating T cells. This acute decrease in T cells was due to a marked diminution in the number of inducer T cells, while the fraction of suppressor T cells remained constant. These changes persisted for up to 12 mo and were accompanied by a later increase in the fraction of circulating B lymphocytes and cells bearing surface Ia. It thus appears that mantle and paraaortic radiotherapy causes a relatively selective reduction in the inducer T- cell population. The implications of a change in the ratio of inducer to suppressor T cells is discussed.

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