BACKGROUND: The Hu5F9-G4 (hereafter, 5F9) antibody is a macrophage immune checkpoint inhibitor blocking CD47 that induces tumor-cell phagocytosis. 5F9 synergizes with rituximab to eliminate B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma cells by enhancing macrophage-mediated antibody-dependent cellular phagocytosis. This combination was evaluated clinically. METHODS: We conducted a phase 1b study involving patients with relapsed or refractory non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Patients may have had diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) or follicular lymphoma. 5F9 (at a priming dose of 1 mg per kilogram of body weight, administered intravenously, with weekly maintenance doses of 10 to 30 mg per kilogram) was given with rituximab to determine safety and efficacy and to suggest a phase 2 dose. RESULTS: A total of 22 patients (15 with DLBCL and 7 with follicular lymphoma) were enrolled. Patients had received a median of 4 (range, 2 to 10) previous therapies, and 95% of the patients had disease that was refractory to rituximab. Adverse events were predominantly of grade 1 or 2. The most common adverse events were anemia and infusion-related reactions. Anemia (an expected on-target effect) was mitigated by the strategy of 5F9 prime and maintenance dosing. Dose-limiting side effects were rare. A selected phase 2 dose of 30 mg of 5F9 per kilogram led to an approximate 100% CD47-receptor occupancy on circulating white and red cells. A total of 50% of the patients had an objective (i.e., complete or partial) response, with 36% having a complete response. The rates of objective response and complete response were 40% and 33%, respectively, among patients with DLBCL and 71% and 43%, respectively, among those with follicular lymphoma. At a median follow-up of 6.2 months among patients with DLBCL and 8.1 months among those with follicular lymphoma, 91% of the responses were ongoing. CONCLUSIONS: The macrophage checkpoint inhibitor 5F9 combined with rituximab showed promising activity in patients with aggressive and indolent lymphoma. No clinically significant safety events were observed in this initial study.