Xylitol is a sugar alcohol being explored for clinical uses. The aim was to evaluate the effects of xylitol on Leishmania amazonensis-infected J774A.1 macrophages. Macrophages were infected with L. amazonensis for 3 It, washed and incubated with 2.5 or 5.0% xylitol for 24, 48, and 72 h at 37 degrees C. Infection indexes for macrophages incubated only in medium were compared to those treated with xylitol. Cell viability and nitric oxide production were determined each time. Xylitol did not affect L. amazonensis or J774A.1 cell viabilities. Xylitol at 5.0% stimulated nitric oxide production by macrophages at 72 h (p < 0.01). At 2.5 and 5.0%, xylitol inhibited nitric oxide production by L. amazonensis at 48 h. (p < 0.05) when compared to control. Infection indexes were significantly lower at 72 h (P < 0.05), (16.9% and 9.6%) in cells cultivated with 2.5 and 5.0% xylitol, respectively, compared to control (38.4%). Results suggest a potential leishmanicidal action of the xylitol on infected macropliages. (C) 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.