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Following i.v. BCG infection, a new population of macrophages are recruited in the rabbit lung. These macrophages, known as activated macrophages, substitute the resident macrophages and can play a key role in the defence against mycobacteria. We report here that BCG-activated alveolar macrophages are equipped with a more active hexose monophosphate pathway, which can maintain an optimal intracellular concentration of NADPH and GSH, and allow to produce mycobactericidal free radicals and to become resistant to mycobacterium-induced programmed cell death. These findings suggest that sustaining the anti-oxidant properties of macrophages could represent a candidate process to be considered as a good therapeutic target in fighting Mycobacterium spp infections.