A slime factor produced by Staphylococcus epidermidis was a complex glycoconjugate extracted by the phenol extraction method. The potential stimulatory or inhibitory capacity of the phenol-extracted slime (PES) was tested on human natural killer cell cytotoxic activity. Various concentrations of the PES preparation were incubated with the effector cells 30 min before and during the assay period. The PES factor inhibited natural killer cell cytotoxic activity at a concentration of 250 mu g/ml and at higher concentrations (p < 0.05). The inhibition of natural killer cell cytotoxic activity may probably be related to the complex composition of the slime substance.