We analyzed leukocyte functions and cytokine response of human leukocytes toward porous tantalum foam biomaterial (Trabecular Metaltrade mark, TM) in comparison to equally sized solid orthopedic metal implant materials (pure titanium, titanium alloy, stainless steel, pure tantalum, and tantalum coated stainless steel). Isolated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and polymorphonuclear neutrophil leukocytes (PMN) were cocultured with equally sized metallic test discs for 24 h. Supernatants were analyzed for cytokine content by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Compared to the other used test materials there was a significant increase in the release of IL (interleukin)-1ra and IL-8 from PMN, and of IL-1ra, IL-6, and TNF-alpha from PBMC in response to the TM material. The cytokine release correlated with surface roughness of the materials. In contrast, the release of IL-2 was not induced showing that mainly myeloid leukocytes were activated. In addition, supernatants of these leukocyte/material interaction (conditioned media, CM) were subjected to whole blood cell function assays (phagocytosis, chemotaxis, bacterial killing). There was a significant increase in the phagocytotic capacity of leukocytes in the presence of TM-conditioned media. The chemotactic response of leukocytes toward TM-conditioned media was significantly higher compared to CM obtained from other test materials. Furthermore, the bactericidal capacity of whole blood was enhanced in the presence of TM-conditioned media. These results indicate that leukocyte activation at the surface of TM material induces a microenvironment, which may enhance local host defense mechanisms.