One of the important immune functions influenced by neuroendocrine factors is natural killer (NK) activity, which is directed against neoplastic and virus-infected cells. The effects of melatonin (Mel) and N-acetylserotonin (NAc-5HT) on NK activity of human peripheral blood lymphocytes were investigated. Leukocytes of healthy human subjects were used in the experiment. NK activity was estimated by measurement of radioactive chromium (51Cr) release from human leukemia cells K 562 (target cells). The previous exposure of human lymphocytes (effector cells) to Mel in concentrations of 10(-6) M and 10(-10) M resulted in an inhibition of NK activity (P less than 0.01) for all the examined effector-target cell ratios (10:1; 20:1, 40:1). NK activity was also suppressed by Mel (10(-8) M), but only if effector-target ratio equal to 20:1 was used (P less than 0.02), and by Mel (10(-12) M) for effector-target ratio equal to 40:1 (P less than 0.05). In none of the examined concentrations did NAc-5HT inhibit NK activity of human lymphocytes. On the basis of the data reported above, a direct suppressive effect of Mel (but not of NAc-5HT) on NK activity of human peripheral blood lymphocytes can be assumed.