The role of granulocytes and monocytes during the induction and course of Escherichia coli endocarditis was investigated in rabbits by selectively depleting monocytes from the circulation with the drug VP16-213 and granulocytes and monocytes with nitrogen mustard. For induction, the number of E. coli needed to infect the vegetations in 50% of the rabbits was significantly lower in rabbits with combined granulocytopenia and monocytopenia than in those with selective monocytopenia or in control rabbits, whereas the number of E. coli needed to infect 50% of the rabbits did not differ between the latter two. During the course of the endocarditis in endocardial vegetations, the numbers of CFU per gram of vegetation were significantly higher in the rabbits with combined granulocytopenia and monocytopenia than in the monocytopenic and control rabbits but did not differ between the latter two. The numbers of granulocytes in the circulation and the numbers of CFU per gram of vegetation showed a significant negative correlation that was not measurably influenced by the duration of the disease but was dependent on the number of E. coli injected for the induction of endocarditis. Granulocytes were found to be most effective at the lowest numbers of bacteria injected. In the circulation, too, the numbers of CFU per milliliter were significantly higher in rabbits with combined granulocytopenia and monocytopenia than in those with selective monocytopenia and control rabbits, and there was a significant negative correlation between the numbers of granulocytes and CFU per milliliter of blood. From these findings we conclude that granulocytes play a protective role during the induction and course of E. coli endocarditis in rabbits, whereas no role is demonstrable for monocytes.