Seven Blastomyces dermatitidis isolates varying in virulence for mice were compared for susceptibility to polymorphonuclear neutrophil (PMN) killing and the ability to induce superoxide anion (O2-) production by PMNs in vitro. In vitro killing of six B. dermatitidis isolates by murine peripheral blood PMNs or by PMNs elicited from the peritoneal cavity by a local immune reaction (B. dermatitidis-immune mice given killed B. dermatitidis intraperitoneally 24 h earlier) inversely correlated with in vivo virulence (most to least virulent) isolates: VV, V, V40, KL-1, A2, and GA-1). The capacity of isolates to induce O2- production by PMNs also inversely correlated with in vivo virulence. Isolate A, of intermediate in vivo virulence, was a good inducer of O2- production in vitro but was no more susceptible to in vitro killing by PMNs than isolate V, VV, or V40. Fungal intracellular superoxide dismutase or catalase content did not correlate with in vivo virulence or in vitro killing by PMNs. Isolate A, however, had two to four times the intracellular catalase activity as did other B. dermatitidis isolates, suggesting a possible mechanism for its enhanced resistance to in vitro killing by PMNs. Therefore, while in vitro killing by PMNs and the capacity to induce O2- production by PMNs inversely correlated with virulence for six B. dermatitidis isolates, isolate A was an exception: its resistance to killing by PMN-generated oxygen metabolites in vitro but its susceptibility to killing in vivo suggest that its in vivo killing occurs by other, perhaps nonoxidative, mechanisms.