Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) exist as persistent organic pollutants in numerous river systems in the United States. Unfortunately, some of these rivers are sites of active Atlantic salmon restoration programs, and polychlorinated biphenyls have been implicated as ancillary factors contributing to failed salmon restoration. Here, we investigate the immediate and chronic effects of intermediate duration aqueous PCB exposure (1 or 10 ??g L-1 Aroclor 1254) on the mitogen-stimulated lymphoproliferative response of Atlantic salmon anterior kidney leukocytes (AKLs). A short-term study was designed to examine immunomodulation in Atlantic salmon smolts immediately following 21 days of aqueous exposure, while a long-term study evaluated chronic impacts in the mitogen response in parr 15 months post-exposure as larvae. The proliferative response of AKLs to the mitogens concanavalin A (CON A), phytohemaglutinnin-P (PHA-P), pokeweed mitogen (PWM), and lipopolysaccharide were used as an indice of immunomodulation. The proliferative response to the T-cell mitogens CON A and PHA-P was significantly increased in the 10 ??g L-1 group (n = 10; P = 0.043 and 0.002, respectively) immediately following exposure of smolts. Additionally, The PHA-P response was significantly increased in the 1 ??g L-1 exposure group (n = 10, P = 0.036). In fish treated as larvae and tested 15 months later, the PHA-P sensitive populations exhibited elevated proliferation in the 1 and 10 ??g L-1 groups (n = 12, P < 0.04) relative to the vehicle control while the PWM response was significantly increased (n = 12, P = 0.036) only in the 10 ??g L-1 treated groups. These results demonstrate an immunomodulatory effect of PCBs on T-cell mitogen sensitive populations of lymphocytes in Atlantic salmon as well as long-term immunomodulation in PHA-P and PWM sensitive populations. ?? 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.