Coxiella burnetii, the etiological agent of Q fever, is a small, Gram-negative, obligate intracellular bacterium. Replication of C. burnetii during infection has been shown to be increased by decreasing oxidative stress using p47(phox -/-) and iNOS(-/-) mice in vivo and by pharmacologic inhibitors in vitro. Building upon this model, we investigated the role polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN) play in the control of infection, since NADPH oxidase-mediated release of reactive oxygen intermediates (ROI) is a primary bactericidal mechanism for these cells that is critical for early innate clearance. Earlier studies suggested that C. burnetii actively inhibited release of ROI from PMN through expression of an unidentified acid phosphatase (ACP). Recent genomic annotations identified one open reading frame (CBU0335) which may encode a Sec- and type II-dependent secreted ACP. To test this model, viable C. burnetii propagated in tissue culture host cells or axenic media, C. burnetii extracts, or purified recombinant ACP (rACP) was combined with human PMN induced with 4-phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA). The release of ROI was inhibited when PMN were challenged with viable C. burnetii, C. burnetii extracts, or rACP but not when PMN were challenged with electron beam-inactivated C. burnetii. C. burnetii extracts and rACP were also able to inhibit PMA-induced formation of NADPH oxidase complex on PMN membranes, suggesting a molecular mechanism responsible for this inhibition. These data support a model in which C. burnetii eludes the primary ROI killing mechanism of activated PMN by secreting at least one acid phosphatase.