A characteristic of inflammation is the influx of polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMN) from peripheral blood to the inflammatory reaction. We report on metabolic alterations and alterations in fungicidal activity in PMN elicited intraperitoneally with different inflammatory agents. The fungicidal activity of murine peripheral blood PMN (PB-PMN) against phagocytosable Candida albicans and nonphagocytosable Blastomyces dermatitidis was compared to that of murine inflammatory PMN. PMN elicited with sodium caseinate exhibited enhanced killing of B. dermatitidis (93 +/- 3%) compared to PB-PMN (38 +/- 11.7%). In contrast, thioglycollate medium elicited PMN had significantly less ability to kill B. dermatitidis (3 +/- 5%) than PB-PMN. Incubation of caseinate PMN with thioglycollate medium for 1 h significantly reduced their ability to kill B. dermatitidis (95% vs 25%). This effect was not due to cytotoxicity of thioglycollate medium for PMN. Candidacidal activity of inflammatory PMN (caseinate or proteose peptone-elicited) was not significantly greater than that of peripheral blood PMN. However, inflammatory PMN had significantly greater candidacidal activity than thioglycollate-elicited PMN.