Although neutrophils function in both defense and tissue destruction, their defensive roles have rarely been studied in association with periodontitis. We hypothesized that peripheral neutrophils are pre-activated in vivo in periodontitis and that hyperactive neutrophils would show enhanced phagocytic ability as well as an increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Peripheral blood neutrophils from patients with aggressive periodontitis and age/gender-matched healthy subjects (10 pairs) were isolated. The levels of CD11b and CD64 expression on the neutrophils and the level of plasma endotoxin were determined by flow cytometry and a limulus amebocyte lysate test, respectively. In addition, neutrophils were subjected to a flow cytometric phagocytosis assay and luminol-enhanced chemiluminescence for non-opsonized Fusobacterium nucleatum in parallel. The neutrophilsfrom most patients expressed increased levels of both CD11b and CD64. In addition, the plasma from these patients tended to contain a higher level of endotoxin than the healthy controls. In contrast, no differences were found between the two groups with regard to phagocytosis or ROS generation by F. nucleatum. The ability to phagocytose F. nucleatum was found to positively correlate with the ability to produce ROS. In conclusion, peripheral neutrophils from patients with aggressive periodontitis are hyperactive but not hyperreactive to F. nucleatum.