Tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP) is an enzyme expressed specifically in osteoclasts and activated macrophages, two phagocytosing cell types originating from the same hematopoietic stem cells. TRAP contains a binuclear iron centre which has been shown to generate reactive oxygen species (ROS). In this study murine macrophage like cell line RAW-264 overexpressing TRAP was shown to produce elevated levels of hydroxyl radicals compared to parental cells. TRAP transfected cells also had reduced growth rate indicating harmful effects of excessive intracellular ROS levels. Using TRAP specific antibody TRAP protein was shown in alveolar macrophages partially colocalize with late endosomal/lysosomal markers Rab7, Lamp 1 and MHC II molecules that bind antigenic peptides. TRAP also colocalized into compartments where Staphylococcus aureus were phagocytosed. These results suggest that TRAP may have an important biological function in the defence mechanism of macrophages by generating intracellular ROS which would be targeted to destroy phagocytosed foreign material.