The possibility of inflammation and neutrophil activation in response to indoor air pollution (IAP) from biomass fuel use has been investigated. For this, 142 premenopausal, never-smoking women (median age, 34 years) who cook exclusively with biomass (wood, dung, crop wastes) and 126 age-matched control women who cook with cleaner fuel liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) were enrolled. The neutrophil count in blood and sputum was significantly higher (p < 0.05) in biomass users than the control group. Flow cytometric analysis revealed marked increase in the surface expression of CD35 (complement receptor-1), CD16 (F(C)γ receptor III), and β(2) Mac-1 integrin (CD11b/CD18) on circulating neutrophils of biomass users. Besides, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay showed that they had 72%, 67%, and 54% higher plasma levels of the proinflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin-6, and interleukin-12, respectively, and doubled neutrophil chemoattractant interleukin-8. Immunocytochemical study revealed significantly higher percentage of airway neutrophils expressing inducible nitric oxide synthase, while the serum level of nitric oxide was doubled in women who cooked with biomass. Spectrophotometric analysis documented higher myeloperoxidase activity in circulating neutrophils of biomass users, suggesting neutrophil activation. Flow cytometry showed excess generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) by leukocytes of biomass-using women, whereas their erythrocytes contained a depleted level of antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD). Indoor air of biomass-using households had two to four times more particulate matter with diameters of <10 μm (PM(10)) and <2.5 μm (PM(2.5)) as measured by real-time laser photometer. After controlling potential confounders, rise in proinflammatory mediators among biomass users were positively associated with PM(10) and PM(2.5) in indoor air, suggesting a close relationship between IAP and neutrophil activation. Besides, the levels of neutrophil activation and inflammation markers were positively associated with generation of ROS and negatively with SOD, indicating a role of oxidative stress in mediating neutrophilic inflammatory response following chronic inhalation of biomass smoke.