The phagocytosis of Staphylococcus aureus by bovine polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMN) requires the presence of antibodies. Among the major isotypes of bovine antibodies, IgG2 and IgM are considered opsonic for bovine PMN. However, the role of purified bovine secretory IgA (sIgA) as an opsonin has not been assessed. In the present study, IgG2 were obtained from serum and sIgA, IgG1, and IgM were purified from the colostrums of three cows intramammarily immunized with heat-killed Staphylococcus aureus. The Ig preparations were assayed for specific antibodies, and the opsonic capacity of every isotype was investigated. Despite the presence of antibodies, we observed no distinct chemiluminescence response of PMN stimulated with sIgA- or IgG1-opsonized S. aureus, whereas IgM or IgG2 bound to bacteria induced a marked chemiluminescence response. Moreover, the counting of internalized bacteria per PMN after phagocytosis revealed a low uptake of S. aureus opsonized with sIgA or IgG1, in contrast to IgM or IgG2, which triggered efficient ingestion of bacteria. Priming of neutrophils by TNF-alpha, IFN-gamma, or C5adesArg did not promote an oxidative burst or uptake of sIgA-opsonized S. aureus to a greater extent than with IgG1-opsonized bacteria. Furthermore, analysis of uningested bacteria by flow cytometry after incubation with PMN showed a preferential uptake of IgM-opsonized S. aureus by PMN and only few sIgA-positive stained bacteria were PMN-associated. These experiments indicate that sIgA, like IgG1 and unlike IgM or IgG2, could not be considered as a major opsonin for phagocytosis of S. aureus by bovine blood PMN.