In a number of patients recovery from infectious mononucleosis (IM) following primary Epstein Barr virus (EBV) infection, is complicated by the persistence of symptoms for months or years. Normally recovery from infectious mononucleosis is associated with the development of EBV-specific antibodies and memory cytotoxic T-cells, which are present in the peripheral blood of all normal seropositive individuals. We studied four patients who had persistent symptoms for more than two years after infectious mononucleosis to determine if this abnormality was associated with a defect in EBV-specific or non-specific immune responses. All four patients had normal immunoglobulin concentrations, T- and B-cell numbers, T-cell proliferative responses and natural killer cell activity. However three of the four had reduced or absent antibodies to the EBV nuclear antigen (EBNA) although other EBV-specific antibody titres were normal. All four also had reduced EBV-specific cytotoxic T-cell activity as measured by the EBV regression assay. This defect was probably EBV-specific as alloreactive cytotoxic T-cell responses were normal. In addition, three of three patients tested had reduced in vitro antibody synthesis following pokeweed mitogen stimulation. These studies indicate that the syndrome of persistent symptoms following EBV mononucleosis may be associated with a defect in EBV-specific immunity, and thus suggest a possible immunological basis for the syndrome.