Thymopentin (TP-5) is a synthetic pentapeptide that corresponds to the active 32-36 amino acid sequence of the thymic hormone thymopoietin, of which it retains all the immunomodulatory properties. In this study, we have evaluated the effects of long term prophylactic treatment with TP-5 on the clinical, immunological and histological parameters of the SLE-like syndrome that spontaneously occurs in MRL/lpr-lpr (MRL-lpr) mice. TP-5, administered (s.c.) to these mice at the doses of 1, 10 and 100 mg/kg, was given daily, five times a week, from the 9th to the 26th weeks of life. The prophylactic treatment with TP-5 prolonged in a clear dose-dependent fashion the lifespan of MRL-lpr mice as compared with PBS-treated control mice, and the effect reached statistical significance at the doses of 10 and 100 mg/kg. In parallel ex vivo studies, this clinical effect was associated with multiple profound modifications of the immune system including: (i) the reduction of the spontaneous and Con A-induced release of interleukin-4 (IL-4); (ii) the increased secretion of interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) and IL-6 upon polyclonal mitogenic stimulation, and (iii) the amelioration of the defective Con A-induced lymphoproliferative response. In contrast, although the drug diminished the severity of proteinuria in MRL-lpr mice, it neither reduced histological signs of lupus nephritis nor diminished the serum titres of anti-native DNA and anti-histone autoantibodies. These results indicate that TP-5 displayed powerful immunodulatory activities in a well known model of human SLE.