Excessive interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) production appears to be a primary immunological lesion in vitamin A-deficient experimental animals but comparable data from humans is lacking. We investigated IFN-γ production in South African children by measurement of urinary excretion of neopterin, a product of IFN-γ-activated monocytes or macrophages. Preschool children were examined during an acute inflammatory illness resulting from accidental ingestion of kerosene and they and a neighbourhood control child were examined 3 months later when well. Vitamin A status was assessed by the modified relative dose response (MRDR) test at 3 months and serum retinol and acute phase proteins were measured at both time points. Urinary neopterin was measured for forty cases in hospital, forty-six cases after recovery, and forty-one controls. Significantly increased neopterin excretion was seen following kerosene ingestion and in association with raised serum acute phase protein concentrations. There was no relationship between neopterin excretion at either time point and vitamin A status as assessed by MRDR test. Urinary neopterin was negatively correlated with serum retinol but no significant relationship was observed when acute phase protein concentrations were included in a multiple regression, suggesting the correlation was secondary to illness-induced changes in serum retinol. The results indicate that, contrary to what is observed in rodents under experimental conditions, poor vitamin A status is not associated with altered regulation of IFN-γ production in children.