Using a hard X-ray microprobe, we showed recently that in unstimulated peritoneal macrophages from C57BL/6 mice, the phagosome of pathogenic mycobacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium avium) can accumulate iron. We expanded our studies to the M. avium infection of peritoneal macrophages of Balb/c mice that show a similar degree of M. tuberculosis and M. avium-related chronic disease, but a higher susceptibility towards other intracellular pathogens such as Listeria monocytogenes, Leishmania major, or Brucella abortus as compared to C57BL/6 mice. Similar to C57BL/6 macrophages, the iron concentration in Balb/c macrophages increased significantly after 24 h of infection. A significant increase of the chlorine and potassium concentrations was observed in the Balb/c phagosomes between 1 and 24 h, in contrast with macrophages from C57BL/6 mice. The absolute elemental concentrations of calcium and zinc were higher in the mycobacterial phagosomes of Balb/c mice. We hypothesize that a potassium channel is abundant in the phagosome in macrophages that may be related to microbiocidal killing, similar to the requirement of potassium channels for microbiocidal function in neutrophils.