A transformed bovine peritoneal macrophage cell line was developed and characterized. Primary peritoneal macrophages were transformed by calcium-phosphate transfection with SV40 plasmid DNA. The transformed cell line retained the morphology of resident peritoneal macrophages as determined by light microscopy and histochemical analysis showed non-specific esterase activity. In addition, immunohistochemical staining of transformed peritoneal macrophages for lysozyme activity was positive. Transformed cells phagocytized Staphylococcus aureus, lysed chicken red blood cell (RBC) targets with and without opsonization and produced hydrogen peroxide radicals and interleukin-6 upon stimulation with opsonized zymosan and lipopolysaccharide, respectively. Transformed cells were also able to ingest and kill Mycobacterium paratuberculosis, an acid-fast bacillus. These results suggest that this cell line should be useful to study interactions between the bovine and intracellular pathogens.