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Unmethylated CpG motif in synthetic oligodeoxynucleotide (CpG ODN) or bacterial DNA is well recognized for its role in innate immunity, including enhancing production of NO and cytokines by macrophages. In the present study, we demonstrated the effect of CpG ODN on the phagocytic uptake of bacteria by macrophages. Flow cytometric analysis of mouse macrophages (RAW 264·7) incubated with fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-labelled Burkholderia pseudomallei, Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi or Escherichia coli showed that CpG ODN increased the uptake of these bacteria by mouse macrophages. The enhancement of bacterial uptake by CpG ODN was concentration-dependent. The increase of bacterial uptake by CpG ODN-activated macrophages shown above is consistent with the result of bacteria internalization study using a standard antibiotic protection assay. There was also an increase in the rate and degree of multi-nucleated giant cell formation, phenomena which have been shown previously to be unique when the cells were infected with B. pseudomallei. These observations may provide significant insights for future investigation into host cell–pathogen interaction.