Recently, mast cells have been shown to produce cytokines which can direct the development of T-cell subsets. The aim of the present study was to determine the relationship between mast cells and the Th1/Th2 response in human periodontal disease. Tryptase+ mast cell numbers were decreased in chronic periodontitis tissues compared with healthy/gingivitis lesions. Lower numbers of c-kit+ cells, which remained constant regardless of clinical status, indicate that there may be no increased migration of mast cells into periodontal disease lesions. While there were no differences in IgG2+ or IgG4+ cell numbers in healthy/gingivitis samples, there was an increase in IgG4+ cells compared with IgG2+ cells in periodontitis lesions, numbers increasing with disease severity. This suggests a predominance of Th2 cells in periodontitis, although mast cells may not be the source of Th2-inducing cytokines.