The mechanism of granulocyte depletion in a patient with systemic lupus erythematosus and neutropenia was investigated. Neutrophil kinetic studies showed a shortened intravascular survival (t1/2 of 1.6 hours) in the face of an increased marrow neutrophil pool. IgG bound to the patient's neutrophils, measured by the Fab antiF(ab')2 assay, was nearly three times normal. The IgG neutrophil-binding activity of the patient's serum was elevated in serial samples obtained over two years. In addition, his serum was able to opsonize normal neutrophils for ingestion by other neutrophils as detected by 14C-1-glucose oxidation. Enhanced IgG PMN-binding activity was observed with sucrose density gradient fractions of the patient's serum containing either large complexes (19S or greater in size), intermediate complexes (between 7S and 19S), or monomeric IgG. Only the momomeric IgG fraction from the patient's serum, however, opsonized normal neutrophils for ingestion by other neutrophils. These results support the hypothesis that anti-cell antibodies were responsible for the neutropenia in this patient by opsonizing neutrophils for ingestion by other phagocytic cells.