Concentrations of immunoglobulin A (IgA), immunoglobulin G (IgG), immunoglobulin M (IgM) and total protein were measured in saliva of 35 malnourished hospitalized adults, 34 well-nourished hospitalized adult controls and 32 healthy adult controls. The malnourished subjects had significantly higher salivary protein, IgA and IgG concentrations than either control group. However, salivary IgA expressed as a percent of total protein (%IgA) was not significantly different between the malnourished subjects and either control group. %IgA was decreased only in a subgroup of the malnourished subjects, those with mixed kwashiorkor-marasmus. Increased concentrations of the salivary immunoglobulins in the malnourished subjects could be due to reduced salivary flow or increased transudation from the plasma due to impaired barrier function. These findings in hospitalized adults are in contrast to previous reports of decreased IgA concentration and %IgA in secretions of malnourished children. © 1984 Pergamon Press Ltd.