ABSTRACT— Recently it has been suggested that oxygen intermediates play an important role in the pathogenesis of tissue damage. The effect of sera from patients with obstructive jaundice on the generation of oxygen intermediates by normal polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs) was investigated. Sera from patients with obstructive jaundice increased superoxide anion (O2-), hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and hydroxol radical (OH) generation compared with sera from healthy individuals or patients with biliary tract stones and/or tumors of the biliary tract or pancreas (without obstructive jaundice). In particular, the hydroxyl radical, which is one of the most potent oxidants capable of causing tissue damage, was produced in large quantities. Sera from patients with obstructive jaundice have a strong capacity to induce production of oxygen intermediates from PMNs, and oxygen intermediates may play a role in the pathogenesis of hepatic and other organ injury in obstructive jaundice.