In contrast to its macrophage-activating capacity, IFN-gamma downregulates expression of the macrophage mannose receptor (MMR), which mediates uptake of Candida and other microorganisms. We found that IFN-gamma induced a concentration-dependent increase in the capacity of human monocyte-derived macrophages to ingest and kill both opsonized and unopsonized Candida albicans and to release superoxide anion upon stimulation with Candida. Mannan or mannosylated albumin inhibited this activated uptake of unopsonized Candida, but glucan did not. Addition of mAb to complement receptor (CR) 3 did not inhibit ingestion; macrophages that lacked CR3 (leukocyte adhesion defect) showed normal upregulation of ingestion by IFN-gamma. The increased candidacidal activity of IFN-gamma-activated macrophages was associated with reduced expression of MMR by a mean of 79% and decreased pinocytic uptake of 125I-mannosylated BSA by 73%; K(uptake) of pinocytosis was not changed. Exposure of resident macrophages to unopsonized Candida did not elicit a transient increase in intracellular free Ca2+ ([Ca2+]i); macrophages activated by IFN-gamma expressed a brisk increase in [Ca2+]i on exposure to Candida. These data suggest that macrophage activation by IFN-gamma can enhance resistance to C. albicans infection in spite of downregulation of the MMR, perhaps through enhanced coupling of the MMR to microbicidal functions.