We investigated whether polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN) are able to kill human neuroblastoma cells either directly or if coated with antibody MAb 14.18 that recognizes ganglioside GD2 present on the cell surface of most neuroblastoma cells. Neuroblastoma cells could not be destroyed directly, whereas in the antibody-dependent reaction (ADCC-reaction) they were easily eliminated. In order to answer the question whether reactive oxygen intermediates are involved in this process, chemiluminescence measurements were performed. Compared to the signals that could be measured using opsonized zymosan as stimulus, only weak CL-signals could be registered during the ADCC reaction. Pretreatment of PMN with granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) enhanced the CL-signals, catalase and SOD reduced it; however, cell killing was only slightly influenced in the presence of catalase and superoxide dismutase. These data suggested that reactive oxygen compounds do not play a prominent role in the killing process. Definitive evidence for this suggestion could be obtained using PMN from a patient with chronic granulomatous disease (CGD): MAb 14.18 coated neuroblastoma cells could be killed effectively, but no CL-signal could be registered, either in the ADCC-reaction or using opsonized zymosan as stimulus.