Recent investigations have shown that the neuroendocrine and immune systems profoundly affect each other. In part, these interactions occur via common chemical messengers and receptors. One possible shared chemical messenger is the opioid precursor preproenkephalin, for which high concentrations of messenger RNA are present in brain, adrenal, and activated T helper cells. Because the biologic action of most peptide messengers depends on the posttranslational processing of the precursor, we have examined T helper cell lines for the production of proenkephalin-derived peptides. These peptides were characterized by multiple radioimmunoassays, gel filtration chromatography, and opiate radioreceptor assays. We found that activated T helper cell secrete significant concentrations of high-molecular-weight, opiate-inactive peptides, which are distinct from the proenkephalin-derived peptides of the neuroendocrine system. These studies clearly indicate cell-specific processing of proenkephalin, and suggest that the T helper cell-secreted products may have nonopiate receptor-mediated actions.