We assessed the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS: O2-, H2O2, OH . , chemiluminescence) by neutrophils and monocytes from six patients with infectious mononucleosis, ten patients with other viral diseases, and ten normal controls. Neutrophils from infectious mononucleosis patients showed markedly decreased generation of all reactive oxygen species, compared with the two control groups; this abnormality persisted for four to eight weeks after disease onset. Monocytes from these patients generated normal levels of ROS. Normal neutrophils incubated with T lymphocytes from infectious mononucleosis patients generated significantly less of each ROS than did those incubated with T cells from either control group. T cell-mediated suppression of ROS generation required both OKT4+ cells from infectious mononucleosis patients and OKT8+ cells from either patients or normals. We conclude that the generation of reaction oxygen species in neutrophils is suppressed in patients with infectious mononucleosis, at least in part, by interacting subsets of T lymphocytes.