This study examined the effects of a fungal infection on body temperature (Tb) and sleep states. Tb and sleep were recorded in male rats for 24 hr after a saline injection and 48 hr after a subcutaneous injection of live brewer's yeast, at ambient temperatures (Ta's) of 20 degrees and 30 degrees C. Peak fevers of 1.6-3.1 degrees C occurred within 6-10 hr at both Ta's. The rats remained febrile for the next 12-24 hr. For the first 24 hr postyeast, amounts of SWS increased by 19 +/- 3% at 20 degrees C and 12 +/- 2% at 30 degrees C. Specifically, SWS was significantly increased from hr 5-8 (lights-on) and 13-24 (lights-off) at 20 degrees, and from hr 5-8 and 17-24 at 30 degrees C. Ta did not affect the changes in Tb or the changes in SWS after either saline or yeast. Duration of REMS varied with Ta after saline. After yeast, REMS increased by 21 +/- 12% at 20 degrees and decreased by 28 +/- 6% at 30 degrees C, with the net result that REMS at the two Ta's was equal during the fever. Furthermore, while the rats were febrile the normal diurnal variation in REMS was eliminated. Sleep and Tb returned to control values during the second fever day. These results suggest that an activated immune system both increases SWS and overrides the diurnal and thermoregulatory modulations of REMS.