We have compared the oxidative metabolism of human eosinophils (80%-90% purity) to that of neutrophils. Hexose monophosphate (HMP) shunt activity of eosinophils was higher than that of neutrophils under either resting or phagocytizing conditions. Eosinophil HMP shunt activity also was stimulated by phorbol myristate acetate, a membrane- active agent. Eosinophils showed a marked incorporation of 125I into trichloroacetic acid-insoluble material under resting conditions, which increased markedly during phagocytosis. Eosinophils likewise showed a greater reduction of nitroblue tetrazolium dye during phagocytosis than did neutrophils. Measurement of other parameters of oxidative metabolism indicated that eosinophils generated superoxide anion following phagocytosis and also elicited a burst of chemiluminescence similar to that observed during phagocytosis by neutrophils. Measurement of NADPH oxidase activity demonstrated that this enzyme was 3–6 times more active in fractions isolated from eosinophils than in corresponding fractions isolated from neutrophils; this was observed over a range of substrate concentrations. The eosinophil enzyme sedimented differently than the neutrophil enzyme with differential centrifugation; neither showed sedimentation characteristics of peroxidase. These data indicate that eosinophils possess a similar, although in some ways more potent, oxidative burst than neutrophils and are consistent with a role for NADPH oxidase in the initiation of that burst.