Int J Exerc Sci 1(2) : 71-78, 2008. The purpose of this study was to verify the histophysiological alterations in monocytes and macrophages induced by short periods of exercise. Male Wistar rats (age = 2 months, body weight = 200g) were divided into seven groups (N = 6 each): sedentary control (C), groups exercised (swimming) at low intensity for 5 (5L), 10 (10L), and 15 minutes (15L), and groups exercised at moderate intensity for 5 (5M), 10 (10M) or 15 minutes (15M). At moderate intensity the animals carried a load of 5% of body weight on their backs. Blood monocytes were evaluated for quantity and morphology, and peritoneal macrophages were analyzed for quantity and phagocytic activity. Data were analyzed using ANOVA and Tukey’s post hoc test (p ≤0.05). Low intensity groups and 5M exhibited an increase in monocyte levels when compared with the control. There was an increase in monocyte cellular area for the 5L, 10L, 5M and 10M groups; monocyte nuclear area increased for the 10L, 5M and 10M groups in comparison with the control. There was an increase in peritoneal macrophages for the 15L, 10M, 15M and decrease for the 5M group. Macrophage phagocytic capacity increased for low intensity groups and for 10M group. The exercise performed for short periods modulated macrophage levels and function, and monocyte levels and morphology, in an intensity-dependent manner. The sum of acute responses observed in this study may exert a protective effect against sickness and may be used to improve health and lifespan.