Since primary infection with Cryptococcus neoformans usually occurs in the lungs, and since pulmonary cryptococcosis involves interactions between yeasts and alveolar epithelial cells, we have begun to study the effects of C. neoformans and its secreted antigens (SA) on epithelial reactions potentially associated with localized inflammation. We report here that SAs from encapsulated and acapsular strains of C. neoformans caused significant reductions in tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha)-induced intercellular adhesion molecule-l (ICAM-l) expression on A549 lung epithelial cells in culture. We also present evidence that the reduction in ICAM-l expression was not associated with SA-induced shedding of this adhesion molecule.