Oftentimes the etiological diagnostic differentiation between viral and bacterial infections is problematic, while clinical management decisions need to be made promptly uponadmission. Thus, alternative rapid and sensitive diagnostic approaches need to be developed. Polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs) or phagocytes act as major players in the defense response of the host during an episode of infection, and thereby undergo functional changes that differ according to the infections. PMNs functional activity can be characterized by quantification and localization of respiratory burst production and assessed by chemiluminescent (CL) byproduct reaction. We have assessed the functional states of PMNs of patients with acute infections in a luminol-amplified whole blood system using the component CL approach. The method demonstrated a high predictive diagnostic value and may assist the clinician one day in the distinction between viral and bacterial infections and the choice of proper medication.