Taurine is a sulfonated beta amino acid derived from methionine and cysteine metabolism. It is present in high concentrations in most tissues and in particular in proinflammatory cells such as polymorphonuclear phagocytes. Initial investigation into the multifaceted properties of this non-toxic physiologic amino acid revealed a link between retinal dysfunction and dietary deficiency. Since then a role for this;amino acid has been found in membrane stabilization, bile salt formation, antioxidation, calcium homeostasis, growth modulation, and osmoregulation. Our own group has demonstrated a key role for taurine in modulation of apoptosis in a variety of cell types. This review summarizes our current knowledge of taurine in nutrition, host proinflammatory cell homeostasis, therapeutic applications, and its potential immunoregulatory properties. It is our belief that taurine, similar to arginine and glutamine, is now more than worthy of critical clinical analysis. Nutrition 1998;14:599-604. (C) Elsevier Science Inc. 1998.