The macrophages from peripheral blood of normal healthy individuals respond to live or killedMycobacterium leprae by producing superoxide. On the other hand, the macrophages from bacteriologically positive (B +LL) or long term treated bacteriologically negative (B -LL) and tuberculoid leprosy patients are unable to produce superoxide when stimulated with liveMycobacterium leprae. While killedMycobacterium leprae induce superoxide with the cells from tuberculoid andB(-)LL patients, cells fromB(+)LL patients fail to respond. The deficiency inB(-)LL patients to produce superoxide appears to be specific withMycobacterium leprae and the defect can be counteracted by the addition of colchicine. These observations indicate a preexisting membrane disposition which does not favour superoxide production. A similar situation is seen in the cells from tuberculoid leprosy patients. Thus it appears that both cured and active lepromatous leprosy patients have defective macrophages, unable to respond to liveMycobacterium leprae to produce superoxide anion, in contrast to the situation with the cells from normal healthy individuals.