Although immunotoxicity of ethylene glycol monomethyl ether (EGME) has been strongly suspected, functional evaluation of the immune response in EGME-treated animals was negative in previous studies. We observed a decrease in thymic cellularity and increases in the various ex vivo immunological assays in mice, orally administered with EGME 0.5 or 1.0 mg/g body weight daily for 5 or 10 days: ex vivo lymphoproliferative responses to concanavalin A, in vitro induction of trinitrophenyl (TNP)-specific cytotoxic T-cell activity of thymocytes and splenocytes. Histopathological examination of the thymus of the treated mice disclosed a markedly atrophic cortex and almost intact thymic medulla. Study of thymocyte surface markers revealed that CD4+/CD8+, Thy-1+, PNA+ immature thymocytes were relatively decreased in EGME-gavaged mice and that, thus, ratios of CD4-/CD8+, H2+ mature thymocytes were enriched. These findings indicate that oral administrations of EGME selectively deplete immature thymocytes in mice. Although the mechanism of action remains unknown, the EGME-induced immature thymocyte depletion is not considered to be due to lymphocidal action of corticosteroids.