Different stages of the phagocytic process, i.e. chemotaxis, ingestion of latex beads and superoxide anion production, were measured in peritoneal macrophages from young (12 ± 2 weeks old) and old (60 ± 2 weeks old) male and female BALB/C mice, which were subjected to an acute bout of exercise (swimming until exhaustion) or to a period of training exercise (90 min of swimming each day during 20 days). Sedentary male and female mice as well as young and old animals were used as sex and age controls. The results show that both acute and training exercise stimulate the phagocytic process of murine peritoneal macrophages. The macrophage functions from sedentary controls were lower in the old than in the young animals. The chemotaxis and ingestion capacities of macrophages were higher in the female young and old sedentary mice than in their male counterparts. After exercise, the stimulation of the phagocytic process was higher in old and female mice than in young and male animals. In addition, serum corticosterone levels were measured in order to investigate the relations between stress and macrophage activity. Old and female mice as well as animals subjected to exercise showed, in general, higher corticosterone levels than young, male and sedentary animals.