BACKGROUND Studies have demonstrated that plant extracts possess various biological characteristics including immunomodulatory activity. OBJECTIVE Euphorbia cheiradenia Boiss et Hohen (Euphorbiaceae), a medicinal herb native to Iran was investigated for its immunomodulatory effects. METHODS The methanolic extract of the plant was prepared and added to mitogen-induced human peripheral blood lymphocyte cultures at different concentrations. Effect of E. cheiradenia on in vivo cell-mediated immunity was measured by delayed type hypersensitivity (DTH) reaction. The effect of the extract on humoral antibody synthesis was also measured in immunized mice treated with different extract concentrations. RESULTS The stimulation index (SI) for cultures treated with 0.01 to 200 microg/ml of the extract ranged from 1.3+/-0.04 to 2.4+/-0.06, (p<0.01) showing a significant stimulatory effect of E. cheiradenia on the lymphocytes. IL-2 secreted from lymphocytes treated with the extract was significantly higher than that from the non-treated cells (p<0.001). Cell cycle analysis on mitogen-treated lymphocytes exposed to different concentrations of the extract showed an increase in the percentage of cells at G2M phase with increases in the concentration of the extract, but the results was not significant. In DTH skin test, the mean footpad thickness of all mice groups treated with 1, 50 and 100 mg/kg of the extract at 24 hours after immunization with antigen was 3.5+/-0.6 mm compared to 2.5+/-0.5 mm for the non-treated group (p=0.005). Moreover, an increase in production of specific antibody in mice immunized with different extract concentrations was also demonstrated. CONCLUSION Results of this study showed the ability of the E. cheiradenia extract to induce proliferation of lymphocytes and enhance both cellular and humoral specific immune responses.