Studies of the effect of short-term, intense treatment with thymic hormone on mitogen response, cytotoxicity to EL-4 lymphoma and natural killer cell (NK) activity was investigated Balb/c nude mice (about 12-16-week-old) were treated 5 times per week for 3 weeks with: Facteur Thymic Serique (FTS) and Thymopentin (TP5, Thymopoietin 32-36) at 1 microgram and 10 ng; TM4 1 ng (an enzyme resistant variant of FTS); Thymosin Fraction V (TF5), 10 and 1 microgram; and 0.1 ml saline, and killed 2 days after the last treatment. The animals were monitored for changes in weight, hematocrit, peripheral blood lymphocyte (PBL) and spleen mitogen response. Additional groups of nude mice were immunized with 1 x 10(7) 5000 R irradiated EL-4 cells 10 days before sacrifice and tested for the presence of cytotoxic T-lymphocytes (CTL). The results show that weight and hematocrit were similar among the groups. Treatment with FTS significantly elevated the number of PBL. Spleen stimulation in mice treated with 1 microgram TP5 was depressed to mitogen concanavalin A (ConA) and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulation. The phytohemagglutinin (PHA) response was not different among the treatment groups. The PBL mitogen response to ConA and LPS was generally increased over saline control in the hormone treated groups but was not statistically significant. The PHA response was only slightly elevated. No CTL was generated in nude mice in any of the groups. However, there was a statistically significant general depression of NK activity in all of the hormone treated animals compared with saline. The results indicate that the basic differentiation defect of the T-cells of nude mice cannot be restored to full functional activity by short-term treatment.