Baseline unstimulated IgG and IgM production by peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 16 patients with alcoholic liver disease (ALD) was slightly higher than that of normal controls. No significant differences were noted when IgG and IgM production were studied using 7 day cultures of B cells from 25 ALD and 22 normal controls; pokeweed mitogen stimulated IgG and IgM production also showed no difference between 26 ALD and 22 normal controls. B cells from patients with ALD showed marked hyporesponsiveness particularly in IgG production in response to T cell derived helper factors. Pre-incubation of B cells with three different concentrations of α-interferon followed by addition of helper factor and 7 day culture showed markedly diminished IgG production in ALD patients as compared with controls. When normal peripheral blood mononuclear cells were pre-incubated with ALD plasmas for 2 h, significant increments in both IgG and IgM production were recorded in comparison to pre-incubations with normal plasmas. The ambient state of B cell activation is considerably different in ALD from normal subjects.