Circulating neutrophil phenotype and function are altered during neutrophilia associated with acute inflammatory states, however, the contribution of bone marrow neutrophil release to these changes has been difficult to quantify in humans. Accelerated release of neutrophils, with potentially distinct attributes, from the bone marrow and their dilution within the circulating pool may produce these apparent changes. Unfortunately selective analysis of these newly emergent neutrophils is difficult given their morphologic similarity to those already in the circulation and the coincident effect of soluble inflammatory mediators on circulating neutrophil phenotype and function. Using whole blood flow cytometry and cardiac surgery as an inflammatory stimulus, we demonstrate the emergence of a unique subpopulation of circulating neutrophils characterised as CD10(-)/CD16(low), indicative of active bone marrow neutrophil release peri-operatively. CD10(-)/CD16(low) neutrophils emerge at the same operative stages as band forms and a left shift, yet represent over 40% of circulating neutrophils postoperatively, and generate a greater stimulus-induced [Ca(2+)](i) flux than their CD10(+) counterparts. We conclude that CD10(-)/CD16(low) neutrophils represent a significant proportion of the circulating pool after cardiac surgery and that bone marrow release, a major contributor to neutrophilia, influences the phenotype and functional activity of circulating neutrophils following this acute inflammatory stimulus.