Abstract Background/Aims : Vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) modulates the immunoglobulin (Ig) synthesis in the peripheral blood of humans and in various lymphoid organs of other species. Because VIP receptors have been shown on lamina propria mononuclear cells (LPMC), the effects of graded doses of VIP on the in vitro Ig production by normal human LPMC was investigated. Methods : Colonic LPMC were cultured with or without graded doses of VIP (1 pmol/L-1 μmol/L). The concentrations of Ig A, G, and M in the 12 days supernatants were quantitated by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and the effects of VIP were characterized by limiting dilution analysis (LDA). Results : The addition of VIP was associated with a significant increase in the production of IgA, whereas IgG levels were significantly reduced. Both these effects were restricted to LPMC. LDA showed that the IgA-enhancing effect was associated with an increase in the number of IgA-producing precursor cells and with variation in the regulatory phenomena involved in IgA production. Conclusions : In humans, a major function of the mucosal immune system (i.e., the synthesis of IgA) is modulated by VIP. Data suggest that VIP may either act as an indirect switch factor or increase the clone size of precommitted cells.