Three children from two unrelated families had a history of recurrent bacterial infections, and their neutrophils were shown to have deficient phagocytic and respiratory responses and possible deficiencies in chemotaxis or adherence. Their neutrophils were strikingly deficient in the ability to ingest or give a respiratory burst in response to unopsonized bakers' yeast or zymosan (Z). Tests for neutrophil and monocyte CR1 (C3b/iC3b receptor) and CR3 (iC3b receptor) demonstrated rosettes with both EC3b and EC3bi. However, EC3bi were bound only to CR1, and not to CR3, because EC3bi rosettes were inhibited completely by anti-CR1. Neutrophils, monocytes, and natural killer (NK) cells also did not fluorescence stain with monoclonal antibodies specific for the alpha-chain of CR3 (anti-Mac-1, anti-Mol, OKM1, and MN-41). Quantitation of C receptors with 125I monoclonal anti-CR1 and anti-CR3 indicated that neutrophils from each patient expressed normal amounts of CR1 per cell but less than 10% of the normal amount of CR3. Examination of neutrophils by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis demonstrated that a normal glycoprotein of approximately 165,000 daltons was missing. Immunoblotting of these gels indicated that the missing band was the alpha-chain of CR3. Subsequent analysis of all three patients' cells also demonstrated a deficiency of LFA-1 alpha-chain and the common beta- chain that is shared by the CR3/LFA-1/p150,95 membrane antigen family. The deficiency of LFA-1 probably explained the absent NK cell function, as normal NK cell activity is inhibited by anti-LFA-1 but not by anti- CR3. The reduced phagocytic and respiratory responses to Z were probably due to CR3 deficiency, because treatment of normal neutrophils with anti-CR3, but not anti-FLA-1, inhibits responses to Z by 80% to 90%. Ingestion of Staphylococcus epidermidis by normal neutrophils was shown to be partially inhibited by monoclonal antibodies to the alpha- chain of either CR3 or LFA-1, and monoclonal antibody to the common beta-chain inhibited ingestion by 75%. Thus, both CR3 and LFA-1 may have previously unrecognized functions as phagocyte receptors for bacteria. The absence of this type of nonimmune recognition of bacteria by these children's neutrophils may be one of the reasons for their increased susceptibility to bacterial infections.