The effects of the cationic anesthetic agents tetracaine and lidocaine on granulocyte function, morphology, and adherence to nylon fibers were studied in an attempt to improve current methods of granulocyte collection by filtration leukapheresis (FL). When dissolved in acid- citrate-dextrose (ACD) plasma, these drugs significantly increased granulocyte elution from the fibers in a dose-related fashion. Granulocytes exposed to tetracaine and lidocaine remained more than 95% viable, retained normal bactericidal capacity after the drugs were washed from the cells, and had preserved membrane integrity, as evidenced by the normal ultrastructural appearance of tetracaine- exposed cells and an absence of leakage of lysozyme or lactic dehydrogenase. Granulocytes eluted with the anesthetic agents were rounded in shape with a reduction in the number of filopodial cytoplasmic projections and a relative absence of cytoplasmic vacuolization when compared to granulocytes eluted with ACD plasma alone. Dose-related inhibition of phagocytosis and adherence, which was largely reversible after washing the granulocytes, was noted. Greater than 95% of the lidocaine could be removed from the eluate with a single centrifugation and resuspension, indicating that granulocytes prepared by FL with anesthetic-enhanced elution could be potentially transfusable.