Monocytes are heterogeneous both in terms of physical properties and in their functional capacity. Isolation of monocytes from peripheral blood may perturb the observed heterogeneity for purified cell preparations. To explore this possibility we examined monocytes prepared by two techniques, counter-flow centrifugation elutriation (CCE) and fibronectin adherence, in terms of cell-surface molecule expression and several physical properties. Although such cells would be expected to represent dissimilar cross-sections of the total monocyte population, they were found to have similar cell-surface antigenic profiles. Observed differences in levels of expression of several molecules (CR1, CR3 and the antigen recognized by LP9 antibody) were found to be a temperature-related phenomenon. These results indicate that monocytes are not divisible into 'subpopulations' on the basis of cell-surface molecule expression and suggest that heterogeneity of monocytes may reflect the presence in the circulation of a continuum of maturational/activation states.