The oral consumption of capsicum has been reported to increase interleukin (IL)-2 and interferon (IFN)-γ production in Peyer's patches (PP); however, the active components responsible for these effects have not been completely identified. The beneficial biological effects of green peppers cultivated under environmentally friendly farming conditions (ECP), without the use of chemical pesticides, have rarely been compared with those of green peppers cultivated under conventional farming conditions (CCP). Oral administration of ECP extract significantly induced the production of IL-2 and IFN-γ in concanavalin A-treated cells from PP ex vivo; their levels were much higher than those in the CCP extract-treated group. A comparative analysis of the HPLC profiles indicated a 1.7-fold increase of a peak, named EF-1, at 415 nm in the ECP extract. The major component of EF-1 was identified as pheophytin a, which is a chlorophyll a molecule lacking a central Mg(2+) ion, as determined from NMR data. Intake of pheophytin a and chlorophyll a significantly increased IL-2 and IFN-γ production, and the percentage of IL-2- and IFN-γ-producing CD4+ T-cells in PP. Taken together, our data suggest that ECPs produce a higher content of pheophytin a than CCPs, and pheophytin a and chlorophyll a are immune-modulating components in green vegetables.