Lymphocytes from patients cured of amebic liver abscesses proliferate and produce gamma interferon upon incubation with soluble Entamoeba histolytica antigen: however, amebic liver abscesses exhibit a relentless progression without treatment. To determine whether suppressive factors are present in sera, we studied T-lymphocyte responses to total soluble E. histolytica antigen by using cells from five patients treated for amebic liver abscesses in the presence of 15 different immune sera and 10 control sera. In the presence of immune sera, E. histolytica antigen-induced lymphocyte proliferation decreased by 63% and production of gamma interferon was reduced by 93.2% (P less than 0.01). Immune sera had no effect on the mitogenic responses of patient lymphocytes to phytohemagglutinin or on the proliferative responses of control lymphocytes to phytohemagglutinin or tetanus toxoid. The suppressive activity of immune sera diminished as the time between therapy for amebic liver abscesses and serum collection increased (P less than 0.05). Suppressive activity did not correlate with the titers of serum anti-amebic antibody and was not affected when serum was absorbed with viable amebic trophozoites. In conclusion, soluble factors present in the sera of amebic liver abscess patients suppressed in vitro lymphocyte responses to E. histolytica antigen and may have contributed to the lack of development of effective in vivo cell-mediated immune responses following the onset of amebic liver abscesses.