Eosinophilic endocarditis is a potentially lethal complication of chronic peripheral blood hyper-eosinophilia. We hypothesized that eosinophil peroxidase (EPO), an abundant eosinophil (EO) cationic granule protein, promotes eosinophilic endocarditis by binding to negatively charged endocardium, and there generating cytotoxic oxidants. Using an immunocytochemical technique, we demonstrated endocardial deposition of EPO in the heart of a patient with hypereosinophilic heart disease. Because EPO preferentially oxidizes Br- to hypobromous acid (HOBr) rather than C1- to hypochlorous acid (HOC1) at physiologic halide concentrations, we characterized the Br--dependent toxicity of both activated EOs and purified human EPO towards several types of endothelial cells and isolated working rat hearts. In RPMI supplemented with 100μM Br-, phorbol myristate acetate-activated EOs, but not polymorphonuclear leukocytes, caused 1.8-3.6 times as much 51Cr release from four types of endothelial cell monolayers as in RPMI alone. H2O2 and purified human EPO, especially when bound to cell surfaces, mediated extraordinarily potent, completely Br- -dependent cytolysis of endothelial cells that was reversed by peroxidase inhibitors, HOBr scavengers, and competitive substrates. We further modeled eosinophilic endocarditis by instilling EPO into the left ventricles of isolated rat hearts, flushing unbound EPO, then perfusing them with a buffer containing 100 μM Br- and 1 μM H2O2. Acute congestive heart failure (evidenced by a precipitous decrement in rate pressure product, stroke volume work, aortic output, and MVO2 to 0-33% of control values) ensued over 20 min, which deletion of EPO, Br-, or H2O2 completely abrogated. These findings raise the possibility that EPO bound to endocardial cells might utilize H2O2 generated either by overlying phagocytes or endogenous cardiac metabolism along with the virtually inexhaustible supply of Br- from flowing blood to fuel HOBr-mediated cell damage. By this mechanism, EPO may play an important role in the pathogenesis of eosinophilic endocarditis.