Malaria sporozoites must leave the bloodstream and cross a layer of sinusoidal lining cells in order to infect hepatocytes and undergo exoerythrocytic schizogony. To determine whether Kupffer cells (KC) derived from this layer interact with sporozoites, murine KC were isolated from perfused livers of BALB/cJ mice and incubated in vitro with Plasmodium berghei sporozoites. Isolated KC had characteristic macrophage surface Ag and were phagocytic, ingesting both latex particles and Leishmania major amastigotes. In the absence of immune serum, sporozoites associated with fewer than 10% of these KC. By 30 min, 10% of the cell-associated sporozoites were completely ingested, 30% were in the process of being ingested, and 60% were attached to the surface of the cells. Opsonization of sporozoites with monoclonal or polyclonal antibodies directed against P. berghei circumsporozoite protein markedly enhanced sporozoite association with KC. Up to 40% of cells exposed to opsonized sporozoites had parasites inside or attached to their surfaces. Sporozoites attached to or ingested by KC were uniformly destroyed within 240 min in all cultures; there was no evidence of conversion of sporozoites to the exoerythrocytic stage within KC by light microscopy, and there was no evidence of residual sporozoites, either inside or outside of cells, by either light or electron microscopy. These data suggest that under nonimmune conditions, KC play a minor role in resistance to infection by malaria sporozoites. However, when sporozoites are opsonized by circumsporozoite antibodies, phagocytosis by KC may be an important immune mechanism that prevents parasitization of hepatocytes.