Macrophages were elicited by the subcutaneous implantation of ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) for periods of 2, 7, and 14 days in rats. Exudates of varying volumes were produced that was comprised of granulocytes, monocytes, immature and mature macrophages, and T-lymphocytes. No B-lymphocytes were observed at any time periods. Cell types were identified by their granularity and positivity to the following antibodies: leucocyte common antigen (LCA, pan leucocyte); CD11b/c (macrophage/monocyte); CD5 (T-lymphocyte); CD45RA (B-lymphocyte); HIS48 (granulocyte); ED2 (mature macrophage); and MCP-1 (monocyte chemoattractant protein 1). Monocytes isolated from control rat blood demonstrated a size slightly larger than that of granulocytes but with less granularity. Their size and granularity were followed over increasing time periods. The macrophages elicited by UHMWPE showed a similar pattern, with the exception of an apparently highly granular subpopulation with volumes similar to that of granulocytes but significantly more granular. The granular macrophage subset had a very high degree of ED2 and MCP-1 positivity, and their proportion, compared with other macrophages, was greatest at 2 days. The high MCP-1 expression was accounted for by MCP-1 molecules bound to the surface of a small proportion of macrophages that were activated. It is postulated that this subpopulation was responsible for the synthesis of the MCP-1 and could indicate a mechanism by which monocytes are attracted to the site of an implanted material.