Quantitation of neutrophil CD64 expression and procalcitonin (PCT) levels in blood samples have been recently proposed as useful tools for early detection of sepsis. To determine the usefulness of these tests, we analyzed blood samples of 112 patients, admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU), presenting clinical symptoms of sepsis, as well as of 50 healthy controls. At the end of the study, a retrospective analysis showed that only 52 of the 112 ICU-patients presented a real sepsis (positive blood culture). The results obtained indicated that of the 52 patients with sepsis, 50 and 49 presented levels of neutrophil CD64 expression >or= 2398 molecules per cell (cut-off determined by receiver operator characteristic analysis) and PCT levels >0.5 ng/ml (cut-off suggested by the manufacturer), respectively. However, the neutrophil CD64 test showed higher specificity in detecting sepsis since 5 out of the 60 ICU-patients without sepsis (negative blood culture), presented CD64 expression levels >or= 2398 molecules per cell, PCT levels >or= 0.5 ng/ml were shown in 27 patients. Moreover, while none of the 50 healthy controls presented a neutrophil CD64 level higher than the cut-off value, 5 patients presented PCT levels >or= 0.5 ng/ml. In conclusion, our data seem to indicate that the quantitation of CD64 expression could be taken into consideration as a sensitive and specific test for early diagnosis of sepsis.