The prophylactic and therapeutic efficacies of the immunomodulating agent RU 41.740 (a glycoprotein extract from Klebsiella pneumoniae) were studied in a murine model of intra-abdominal abscess formation with Bacteroides fragilis, Escherichia coli, and bran as an abscess-potentiating agent. Parenteral injection of RU 41.740, either before or after injection of an abscess-inducing mixture (AIM), was associated with significantly diminished incidence and size of abscesses. Abscess incidence and size were significantly decreased by oral administration of RU 41.740 after, but not before, AIM injection. Abscess formation and resolution are the results of complex interactions of host defence mechanisms with bacteria and potentiating agent, and RU 41.740 has been shown previously to activate both macrophage and neutrophil function. These results indicate that activation of non-specific defences may protect against abscess development in chronic sepsis.