The gene Ucp2 is a member of a family of genes found in animals and plants, encoding a protein homologous to the brown fat uncoupling protein Ucp1 (refs 1-3). As Ucp2 is widely expressed in mammalian tissues, uncouples respiration and resides within a region of genetic linkage to obesity, a role in energy dissipation has been proposed. We demonstrate here, however, that mice lacking Ucp2 following targeted gene disruption are not obese and have a normal response to cold exposure or high-fat diet. Expression of Ucp2 is robust in spleen, lung and isolated macrophages, suggesting a role for Ucp2 in immunity or inflammatory responsiveness. We investigated the response to infection with Toxoplasma gondii in Ucp2-/- mice, and found that they are completely resistant to infection, in contrast with the lethality observed in wild-type littermates. Parasitic cysts and inflammation sites in brain were significantly reduced in Ucp2-/- mice (63% decrease, P<0.04). Macrophages from Ucp2-/- mice generated more reactive oxygen species than wild-type mice (80% increase, P<0.001) in response to T. gondii, and had a fivefold greater toxoplasmacidal activity in vitro compared with wild-type mice (P<0.001 ), which was absent in the presence of a quencher of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Our results indicate a role for Ucp2 in the limitation of ROS and macrophage-mediated immunity.