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Macrophages separated from lavage samples obtained from lungs removed at transplantation from patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) and other lung diseases, have been compared with circulating monocytes from the same patients for their ability to stimulate allogeneic normal circulating lymphocytes and to present antigen to autologous hilar lymph node cells. In general, macrophages separated from lavage samples from CF patients were unable to stimulate allogeneic lymphocytes and to present antigen, although monocytes from the same patients were functional in both assays. In contrast, lavage cells from non-CF patients were generally effective in both allogeneic stimulation and antigen presentation. These data suggest that immune cells within the lungs of CF patients are functionally compromised, a deficiency which may contribute to the recurrent infections characteristic of the disease.