The acquisition of Burkholderia cepacia in some cystic fibrosis patients is associated with symptoms of acute pulmonary inflammation that may be life threatening. The ability of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) from B. cepacia to prime a monocyte cell line for enhanced superoxide anion generation was investigated and compared with the priming activities of LPSs from Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, and Escherichia coli. The human monocyte cell line MonoMac-6 (MM6) was primed overnight with different LPSs (100 ng/ml), and the respiratory burst was triggered by exposure to opsonized zymosan (125 micrograms/ml). Superoxide generation was detected by enhanced chemiluminescence with Lucigenin. B. cepacia LPS was found to prime MM6 cells to produce more superoxide anion than P. aeruginosa or S. maltophilia LPS, and this priming response was CD14 dependent. In addition, the inhibition of respiratory burst responses in monocytes by a bacterial melanin-like pigment purified from an epidemic B. cepacia strain was investigated. The melanin-like pigment was isolated from tyrosine-enriched media on which B. cepacia had been grown and was purified by gel filtration, anion ion-exchange chromatography, and ethanol precipitation. The scavenging potential of the melanin-like pigment for superoxide anion radical (*O2-) generated during the respiratory burst was confirmed with superoxide produced from a cell-free system with xanthine-xanthine oxidase and detected by electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy with the spin trap 5-diethoxyphosphoryl-5-methyl-1-pyrroline-n-oxide. The addition of melanin during the LPS priming stage had no effect on the subsequent triggering of the respiratory burst, but melanin inhibited *O2- detection when added at the triggering stage of the respiratory burst. We conclude that melanin-producing B. cepacia may derive protection from the free-radical-scavenging properties of this pigment.