In vivo interactions of rabbit alveolar macrophages (AM) and Cryptococcus neoformans, a yeast pathogenic for humans, were studied. As a control, inert silica particles of a similar diameter (5-6 microns) were used. Of 16 rabbits, 6 were instilled intratracheally with fluorescein-labelled heat-killed C. neoformans, 6 with fluorescein-labelled silica particles and 4 with saline only. After 24 h, the AM were collected by lung lavage, and phagocytosis, oxidative metabolism, phagolysosomal pH and morphology were studied. The accumulated number of yeasts attached to the AM was almost the same for C. neoformans as for the silica particles. The ingested fraction of C. neoformans was even higher than that of the silica particles. Quantitative NBT reduction by the AM, reflecting their oxidative metabolism, was markedly increased by exposure to C. neoformans for 24 h. The phagolysosomal pH was on the average lower in phagolysosomes with C. neoformans than with the silica particles, although approximately 2% of the phagolysosomes with C. neoformans had neutral pH. Phagolysosomes with neutral pH was not observed for silica particles. Electron microscopy showed presence of C. neoformans in phagolysosomes of AM. The conclusion of this study is that the phagocytic activity, oxidative metabolism and phagolysosomal pH AM against C. neoformans are significant 24 h after the exposure.