Mycobacterium avium is an intracellular pathogen that has been shown to invade macrophages by using complement receptors in vitro, but mycobacteria released from one cell can enter a second macrophage by using receptors different from complement receptors. Infection of CD18 (beta(2) integrin) knockout mice and the C57 BL/6 control mice led to comparable levels of tissue infection at 1 day, 2 days, 1 week, and 3 weeks following administration of bacteria. A histopathological study revealed similar granulomatous lesions in the two mouse strains, with comparable numbers of organisms. In addition, transmission electron microscopy of spleen tissues from both strains of mice showed bacteria inside macrophages. Our in vivo findings support the hypothesis that M. avium in the host is likely to use receptors other than CR3 and CR4 receptors to enter macrophages with increased efficiency.