We have previously reported low serum levels of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1,25-(OH)2D3] and increased 1,25-(OH)2D3 production after the administration of 25-hydryoxyvimin D (25OHD) to anephric humans. Since normal alveolar macrophages are known to synthesize 1,25-(OH)2D3 when stimulated with γ-interferon or lipopolysaccharide, we determined whether macrophages derived from peripheral blood monocytes could be an extrarenal source of 1,25-(OH)2D3. Our results demonstrated that macrophages from normal individuals synthesize 1,25-(OH)2D3. The apparent Km for 25OHD3 was 6.6 ± 0.5 nM and the maximum velocity was 47.4 ± 13.7 fmol 1,25-OH)2D3h · μg DNA. The activity of this enzyme was reduced 37.2 ± 3.1% by physiological concentrations (96 pmol/L) of 1,25-(OH)2D3in the incubation medium. Normal macrophages further hydroxylated 1,25-(OH)2D3 to more polar metabolites, and this catabolic activity was significantly enhanced by physiological Concentrations of 1,25-(OH)2D3. In chronic renal failure, peripheral macrophages exhibited an enhanced 1α-hydroxylase activity (8.2 ± 0.8 us. 4.2 ± 0.5 fmol 1,25-(OH)2D3/μg DNA · h in controls) and a decreased capacity to degrade 1,25-(OH)2D3. Exogenous 1,25-(OH)2D3, in physiological concentrations, reduced 1,25-(OH)2D3 synthesis to a degree (23.6 ± 8.5%) comparable to that observed in normal cells. 1,25-(OH)2D3 production by macrophages did not correlate with the severity of hyperparathyroidism. Moreover, human PTH-(1-34) in supraphysiological concentrations (20,000 and 100,000 ng/L) did not stimulate the 1α-hydroxylase activity of macrophages from either normal or uremic subjects. These results demonstrate that 1) normal peripheral macrophages metabolize 25OHD3 and 1,25-(OH)2D3; 2) macrophages in uremia display higher rates of 1,25-(OH)2D3 synthesis and lower rates of catabolism than normal macrophages; and 3) 1,25-(OH)2D3 deficiency, but not hyperparathyroidism, may play a role in the stimulation of 1,25-(OH)2D3 production by macrophages in chronic renal failure.