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Chronic heart failure (CHF) may be considered a state of immune activation and persistent inflammation expressed by increased circulating levels of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines. The purpose of the study was to investigate the immune status in patients with CHF compared to normal individuals. We measured serum cytokine levels as well as cytokine production after ex vivo LPS stimulation of whole blood taken from 14 patients with CHF and 14 healthy volunteers. We used 500 pg/ml of LPS for an incubation period of 4 h to stimulate 100 μL of whole blood. Patients with CHF had significantly higher levels of TNF-RI, and TNF-RII in serum compared to normal individuals. TNF-α, IL-6, and IL-10 did not differ significantly. After LPS stimulation, patients with CHF had significantly higher levels of TNF-α and IL-10, and significantly lower IL-6 levels compared to normal individuals. TNF-α receptors did not differ significantly. Patients with CHF may be found in a pro- as well as an anti-inflammatory state. They also do not develop endotoxin tolerance in an ex vivo laboratory model using whole blood stimulated with LPS. They may have increased TNF-α and IL-10 production after LPS stimulation of whole blood, which may contribute to a worsening of heart function, more severe disease presentation and a worse outcome during infections.