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Phagocytes are capable of recognizing foreignness without the intervention of soluble opsonins but, in some arthropods, there is in vitro evidence that opsonins can increase the efficiency of phagocytosis. It has been hypothesized, on the basis of ultrastructural evidence that encapsulation, a multicellular immune response, is induced when labile hemocytes rupture upon encountering a foreign object. The released products may promote the formation of a sheath of ameboid hemocytes around the object. This hypothesis is now supported by the results of experiments performed on an in vitro encapsulation system. This system may prove useful in the purification of encapsulation-promoting factors.