Melatonin (MEL) affects the immune system by direct or indirect mechanisms. An involvement of the zinc pool in the immune-reconstituting effect of MEL in old mice has recently been documented. An altered zinc turnover and impaired immune functions are also evident in pinealectomized (px) mice. The present work investigates further the effect of "physiological" doses of MEL on the zinc pool and on thymic and peripheral immune functions in px mice. Daily injections of MEL (100 micrograms/mouse) for 1 month in px mice restored the crude zinc balance from negative to positive values. Thymic and peripheral immune functions, including plasma levels of interleukin-2, also recovered. The nontoxic effect of MEL on immune functions was observed in sham-operated mice. Because the half-life of MEL is very short (12 min), interruption of MEL treatment in px mice resulted, after 1 month, in a renewed negative crude zinc balance and a regression of immune functions. Both the zinc pool and immunological parameters were restored by 30 further days of MEL treatment. The existence of a significant correlation between zinc and thymic hormone after both cycles of MEL treatment clearly shows an involvement of the zinc pool in the immunoenhancing effects of MEL and thus suggests an inter-relationship between zinc and MEL in px mice. Moreover, the existence of significant positive correlations between zinc or thymulin and interleukin-2 suggests that interleukin-2 may participate in the action of MEL, via zinc, on thymic functions in px MEL-treated mice.