In most of the diseases which are considered to benefit from propolis, cellular immune reaction is activated, neopterin levels in body fluids are increased and enhanced tryptophan degradation is observed. In this study, the immunomodulatory effects of six Turkish propolis samples were evaluated by using the in vitro model of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). Concentrations of neopterin, tryptophan, kynurenine and pro-inflammatory cytokines, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) were determined and also the viability of the cells was checked with trypan blue and MTT [3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide] test. In PBMC treated with mitogen phytohaernagglutinin, neopterin production and tryptophan degradation by enzyme indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase IDO as well as release of cytokines was significantly enhanced and upon treatment with propolis extracts all these effects were dose-dependently suppressed. Results show an immunomodulatory effect of propolis extracts which includes down-regulation of IDO activity. IDO enzyme is considered to play an important role in the development of immunodeficiency and neuropsychiatric symptoms in patient with chronic inflammation. The suppression of tryptophan degradation by propolis extracts may therefore be related with some of its beneficial health properties in humans. (C) 2008 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.