Abstract Heparinised blood samples were obtained from 20 patients with chronic plaque psoriasis and from 13 age-matched healthy controls. After preliminary titration, mononuclear cells separated over Ficoll-Tryoson were cultured for 5 days with 10 μg ml −1 of 15 mycobacterial preparations, or with pokeweed mitogen and concanavalin A. Stimulation indices were determined for each reagent and means were determined for patients and controls. Results for patients showed a striking reduction of responsiveness to mycobacteria, apparently due to loss of responses to group i, common mycobacterial antigens, and no differences in responses to mitogens. These observations relate psoriasis to certain other diseases, notably mycobacterial infections, rheumatoid arthritis, Chagas' disease and human immunodeficiency virus infection. The observations may be relevant to the aetiology of psoriasis, and to potential immunotherapy for the disease.