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Healthy subjects of African ancestry, including Afro-Caribbeans, have been observed to have lower total white cell counts and neutrophil counts than healthy Caucasian subjects. The cause of this ethnic neutropenia is unclear. We have previously found no evidence that increased margination of neutrophils is responsible. In this study, we have investigated mobilization of neutrophils from the bone marrow granulocyte reserve by endurance exercise. We investigated subjects of different ethnic origins before and after they had competed in a marathon race. Before the race, the neutrophil counts of Africans/Afro-Caribbeans were significantly lower than those of Caucasians (means 2.49 and 3.21 × 109/l respectively; P = 0.043). After the race, the difference was greater, as was the degree of significance (means 10.21 and 12.33 respectively; P = 0.017). The percentage increment was almost identical whereas the absolute increment was considerably less, although of marginal statistical significance (increment 7.72 and 9.12 × 109/l respectively; P = 0.10). Similar changes were observed in the monocyte count. Before the race, the difference in the means was of marginal statistical significance (0.35 and 0.41 × 109/l respectively; P = 0.105), whereas after the race the difference was greater and was highly significant (means 0.75 and 1.05 × 109/l respectively; P = 0.001). These observations support the results of our earlier study, both of which suggested that ethnic neutropenia is likely to result from a diminished bone marrow reserve rather than being consequent on altered distribution of neutrophils within the blood stream.