Synthetic pyrethroids are increasingly used as insecticides and marketed as having relatively low human toxicity. The aim of this study was to examine the in vitro effects of the synthetic pyrethroid S-bioallethrin on human blood lymphocytes and basophils in atopic individuals and nonatopic control subjects. S-bioallethrin caused inhibition of lymphocyte proliferation after a 72-h culture period in a concentration-dependent manner. The inhibition of the lymphocyte proliferation by S-bioallethrin at the concentration 6.5 µM correlated well with the total serum IgE values (r=-0.89, P < 0.001). Samples from atopic subjects were more sensitive to this inhibition than those from nonatopic volunteers. The regulatory interleukin-4/interferon-gamma (JL-4/IFN-γ) balance showed a significant difference between atopic and nonatopic subjects after a short-term culture period (24 h) in the presence of the same concentration range of S-bioallethrin (P < 0.001). Additionally, IFN-γ secretion was consistently lower in cells from the atopic donors. Furthermore, S-bioallethrin induced histamine release from human basophils in a concentration-dependent manner. Although the effect was small compared to histamine liberators such as N-formyl-Met-Leu-Phe and anti-IgE, the response to S-bioallethrin was significantly different in atopic donors from nonatopic (P = 0.0431). These findings are the first demonstration of the immunotoxicologic properties of the synthetic pyrethroid S-bioallethrin by this combined in vitro approach with human lymphocytes and basophils. Further studies will investigate the responses of lymphocytes from patients who are sensitive to these agents.