[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chemotherapy causes neutropenia and an increased susceptibility to infection. Recent reports indicate that mannan-binding lectin (MBL) insufficiency is associated with an increased duration of febrile neutropenia and incidence of serious infections following chemotherapy for haematological malignancies. We aimed to confirm or refute this finding and to extend the investigation to the plasma ficolins, P35 (L-ficolin) and the Hakata antigen (H-ficolin). MBL, L-ficolin and H-ficolin were measured in 128 patients with haematological malignancies treated by chemotherapy alone or combined with bone marrow transplantation. Protein concentrations were related to clinical data retrieved from medical records. MBL concentrations were elevated compared with healthy controls in patients who received chemotherapy, while L-ficolin concentrations were decreased and H-ficolin levels were unchanged. There was no correlation between MBL, L-ficolin or H-ficolin concentration and febrile neutropenia expressed as the proportion of neutropenic periods in which patients experienced fever, and there was no relation between abnormally low (deficiency) levels of MBL, L-ficolin or H-ficolin and febrile neutropenia so expressed. Patients with MBL < or =0.1 microg/ml had significantly more major infections than no infections within the follow-up period (P<0.05), but overall most patients had signs or symptoms of minor infections irrespective of MBL concentration. Neither L-ficolin nor H-ficolin deficiencies were associated with infections individually, in combination or in combination with MBL deficiency. MBL, L-ficolin and H-ficolin, independently or in combination, did not have a major influence on susceptibility to infection in these patients rendered neutropenic by chemotherapy. These results cast doubt on the potential value of MBL replacement therapy in this clinical context.