As a feed additive, ascorbic acid has been shown to have a protective effect against bacterial and viral diseases and to reduce the impact of detrimental stress in chickens. This study examined the effect of ascorbic acid treatment on in vitro heterophil function by examining random migration and phagocytosis and bacterial killing of Staphylococcus aureus. Heterophils were evaluated in broiler chickens ranging from 5 to 16 wk of age, and age differences were seen. Significant increases in bacterial killing were found in heterophils treated with ascorbic acid, and this difference tended to be greater in chickens from 5 to 10.5 wk of age. No significant differences were found in phagocytosis or random migration, but ascorbic acid tended to decrease random migration. The most significant effect on in vitro heterophil function was an increase in bacterial killing.