Background/Aim: The omentum has an important role as part of peritoneal defense mechanisms. The aim of this study is to show the bactericidal activity of peritoneal fluid and the role of the omentum as a peritoneal defense mechanism in experimental animals with intra-abdominal infections. Methods: 40 male Spraque-Dawley rats weighing between 250 and 300 g were used in this study. The rats were randomly divided into four groups consisting of 10 animals. The operative procedures were done under sterile conditions. In group I sham laparotomy was done. In group 11, the distal part of the cecum was ligated, and cecum perforation was performed. In group III, total omentectomy was performed after cecal ligation and perforation. In group IV only omentectomy was performed. Baseline and 2- and 4-hour peritoneal fluid samples were taken using a Pasteur pipette during laparotomy under anesthesia. Total peritoneal cells counts, bactericidal activity of peritoneal fluid, and types of phagocytic cells in the peritoneal fluid were assessed. Results: As compared with baseline values, the total peritoneal cell counts were increased at the 2nd and 4th h in all groups (p < 0.05). A significant increase was observed after 4 h as compared with 2 h in sham laparotomy, cecal ligation + perforation + omentectomy, and omentectomy groups (p < 0.05). A significant increase in the cell counts after 2 h was found in the other groups when compared to the sham laparotomy group (p = 0.0001). After 4 h, there was a significant difference between the groups, but especially prominent in the cecum ligation + perforation + omentectomy group (p = 0.0001). Proliferating colony counts of Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa decreased after 2 h, and there was no proliferation in the subsequent cultures. It was observed that the macrophage counts significantly increased after 2 and 4 h as compared with baseline in intragroup assessments (p = 0.0001). In the intergroup assessment, an increase was observed in the macrophage counts at baseline and after 2 and 4 h, and this was significant in the cecal ligation + perforation + omentectomy group (p = 0.0001). In the omentectomy group, a significant decrease was observed in the macrophage counts between the 2nd and 4th h (p = 0.0001). Conclusion: Removal of the omentum in the presence of intra-abdominal infections causes the peripherally derived macrophages to take over the defensive role of macrophages of peritoneal origin as a compensatory mechanism, thus the peritoneal bactericidal activity against E coli, the major pathogen in intraabdominal infections, does not change after omentectomy. Copyright (C) 2003 S. Karger AG, Basel.