BACKGROUND: In vitro studies have shown that the neutrophil Fc gamma receptor IIA (FcγRIIA) polymorphism influences the phagocytic capacity of neutrophils and the removal of encapsulated bacteria from the bloodstream. In particular, the R/R131 allotype is associated with less phagocytic activity. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: We performed a case-control study to determine the influence of the FcγRIIA polymorphism (R/R131, R/H131, H/H131) on the risk and outcome of meningococcal disease. The polymorphisms were measured in 130 patients with microbiologically proven meningococcal disease diagnosed from 1987 to 1998 (cases) and 260 asymptomatic sex-matched blood donors (controls). Clinical manifestations and complications of meningococcal disease were recorded, and a prognostic score (based on age, hemorrhagic diathesis, neurologic signs, and the absence of preadmission antibiotic) therapy was calculated. RESULTS: The distributions of FcγRIIA allotypes were similar in cases and controls. However, among patients with meningococcal infection, fulminant meningococcal disease (odds ratio [OR] = 3.9; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.0 to 16; P = 0.04) and meningococcemia without meningitis (OR = 3.0; 95% CI: 1.4 to 7.8; P = 0.004) were more common in those with the FcγRIIA-R/R131 allotype. Complications were also significantly more frequent in these patients. Of the 42 patients with the R/R131 allotype, 31 (74%) had an adverse prognostic score, compared with 7% (4 of 59) of those with the R/H131 allotype and 3% (1 of 29) of those with the H/H131 allotype (P <0.0001). CONCLUSION: The FcγRIIA-R/R131 allotype is associated with more severe forms of meningococcal disease. © 2002 by Excerpta Medica, Inc.