Indirect evidence suggests that innate immune mechanisms involving alveolar macrophages (AMs) are of major importance in antimycoplasmal defense. We compared the effects of AM depletion on intrapulmonary killing of Mycoplasma pulmonis during the early phase of infection in mycoplasma- resistant C57BL/6NCr (C57BL) and mycoplasma-susceptible C3H/HeNCr (C3H) mice. More than 80% of AMs were depleted in both strains of mice by intratracheal insufflation of liposome-encapsulated dichloromethylene bisphosphonate (L- Cl2MBP), compared to no significant AM depletion in either strain following insufflation of liposome. encapsulated phosphate-buffered saline (L-PBS), PBS alone, or no treatment. AM-depleted (L-Cl2MBP) and control (L-PBS) mice were infected intranasally with 105 CFU of M. pulmonis UAB CT, and their lungs were quantitatively cultured to assess intrapulmonary killing at 0, 8, 12, and 48 h postinfection. AM depletion exacerbated the infection in C57BL mice by reducing killing of the organism to a level comparable to that in C3H mice without AM depletion. In contrast, AM depletion did not alter killing in C3H mice. These results directly identify the AM as the main effector cell in early pulmonary antimycoplasmal defense and suggest that differences in mycoplasmal killing by AMs may explain the resistance of C57BL mice and the susceptibility of C3H mice to mycoplasmal infection.