Several studies have suggested that respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) bronchiolitis induced the change of cytokine production profile in childhood. We sought to determine whether the RSV-induced cytokine production was affected by the patient's atopic background. We quantified interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) and interleukin (IL)-4 in the supernatant of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) cultured for 24 h and in the presence of phytohemaglutinin (PHA), IL-12, or IL-18, from 14 infants who were divided into two groups, those who are non-atopic and an atopic group. In RSV-infected infants with atopic diseases, IFN-gamma production from IL-12- or especially IL-18-stimulated PBMCs was subtotally suppressed in the acute phase, whereas in RSV-infected infants without atopic diseases IFN-gamma production was not suppressed on acute phase. The IFN-gamma suppression observed in the atopic group is not caused by the immaturity of an infant's immune system since reduced IFN-gamma production to RSV is not observed in the infants of non-atopic group. IFN-gamma suppression in regard to RSV infection might be caused by some genetic factor involved in the development of atopic disease such as IL-18 signal cascade.