A 23-year-old woman experienced six distinct episodes of severe combined neutropenia and thrombocytopenia. At least one of the episodes was accompanied by hemodialysis-requiring acute renal failure and fragmentation hemolysis (hemolytic uremic syndrome [HUS]). In retrospect, all episodes were probably associated with the ingestion of quinine. Quinine-dependent antibodies to platelets, neutrophils, T lymphocytes, and red blood cells (RBCs) were detected in the patient's serum. By a monoclonal antibody antigen capture assay, the patient's serum contained IgG antibodies, which in the presence, but not absence, of quinine reacted with platelet glycoprotein (GP) complexes Ib/IX and IIb/IIIa, but not Ia/IIa. By immunoprecipitation assay, the serum, after addition of quinine, reacted strongly with an 85-Kd neutrophil membrane protein and weakly with 130- and 60-Kd moieties. Serum adsorbed with RBCs in the presence of quinine continued to react with platelets and neutrophils, and serum that was absorbed with platelets continued to react with neutrophils and RBCs, indicating that the antigenic targets were different on platelets, neutrophils, and RBCs. Since platelets and endothelial cells share some antigens, we tested patient serum for antibodies to human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC); no quinine-dependent antibodies to HUVEC were detected. However, her quinine-dependent antibodies not only bound to platelets and neutrophils, but also activated neutrophils. Thus, the patient's serum with quinine aggregated neutrophils, but neither agent alone caused activation. Moreover, the patient's serum with quinine (but not without) augmented the adherence of neutrophils to HUVEC. Treatment of the patient's serum with staphylococcal protein A removed the quinine neutrophil aggregation cofactor, suggesting it was due to IgG. In both neutrophil aggregation and adherence assays, decomplementation of the patient's serum markedly blunted its effect. Furthermore, the patient's serum failed to aggregate formalin-inactivated neutrophils, suggesting neutrophil activation, probably by activated complement, was necessary for aggregation and adhesivity to endothelium. We conclude that our patient's neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, lymphopenia, and anemia were due to quinine-dependent antibodies, and that these antibodies recognized epitopes that were different in the three target cell populations. We further suggest that HUS was likely secondary to the activation and adhesion of neutrophils to endothelium.