Cyanobacteria are common and potentially harmful inhabitants of freshwater and marine environments worldwide. Some waterbloom-forming cyanobacteria are toxic and they may cause animal death and adversely affect human health. A filamentous freshwater cyanobacterium, Planktothrix sp. FP1, was found to be responsible for a toxic algal bloom in Lake Varese (Italy) during August of 1997. In the present study, the biological effects of the Planktothrix sp. FP1 cell extract on Xenopus embryos and on human Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells (PBMC) were investigated. FETAX (Frog Embryo Teratogenesis Assay-Xenopus) showed that the cyanobacterial extract had no teratogenic potential, though embryotoxicity was detected (LC(50) 2.944g/l wet weight). The same extract inhibited the proliferation of PBMC stimulated in vitro by phytohemagglutinin (PHA), and strongly interfered with the production of interleukin-2 (IL-2) and interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma).