Phagocytosis and intracellular killing of Candida albicans and Candida pseudotropicalis by neutrophils as well as phagocytic splenic function from lead-exposed workers were studied. Two species of Candida were used since in individuals with myeloperoxidase deficiency neutrophils are unable to kill C. albicans, whereas C. pseudotropicalis can be effectively lysed. Phagocytosis with both antigens and phagocytic splenic function were normal in all the workers studied. However, lytic activity towards C. albicans, but not C. pseudotropicalis was impaired. This defect was observed in lead-exposed workers with blood lead levels and urinary delta-aminolevuliniv acid (ALA-U) concentrations in the "safe" (below 60 ug/dl and 6 mg/l, respectively) and toxic ranges. An impaired ability to kill C. albicans suggests that lead exposure may lead to a myeloperoxidase deficiency. With the exception of blood lead levels and ALA-U concentrations, there was no correlation between any of the other parameters examined.