1. Na+/H+ antiport activity was measured in peripheral blood polymorphonuclear and mononuclear cells of 12 healthy subjects by using an intracellular pH clamp technique to determine the external Na+-dependent H+ efflux rate in cells loaded with a pH-sensitive fluorescent dye, bis(carboxyethyl)carboxyfluorescein. The change in external Na+ concentrations for all pH measurements was similar in both cell types.
2. A significant difference between the two types of cells was found, the polymorphonuclear leucocytes having a higher Na+/H+ antiport activity than the lymphocytes. Cellular intrinsic buffering capacity measured in the absence of HCO−3 was also higher in the polymorphonuclear cells than in the lymphocytes.
3. These differences may be associated with a difference in the role of the Na+/H+ exchanger in these two types of cells, although in vivo the presence of HCO−3/Cl− exchangers may also contribute to intracellular pH homoeostasis.