Nonopsonized Brucella abortus and bacteria treated with fresh antiserum, heat-inactivated antiserum, or normal bovine serum were evaluated for their ability to stimulate production of superoxide anion and myeloperoxidase-mediated iodination by neutrophils from cattle. Brucella abortus opsonized with fresh antiserum or heat-inactivated antiserum stimulated production of approximately 3 nmol of O2-/10(6) neutrophils/30 min. Similarly treated bacteria also stimulated the binding of approximately 4.3 nmol of NaI/10(7) neutrophils/h to protein. Significant (P less than 0.05) production of O2- and iodination activity by neutrophils were not stimulated by nonopsonized bacteria or organisms treated with normal bovine serum. Seemingly, B abortus stimulated oxidative metabolism in bovine neutrophils; however, the stimulation was dependent on the presence of bacterial associated opsonins.