ABSTRACT Changes in the amounts and proportions of leukocytes, known as leucocyte profiles, have been documented for several bird species and have been used to measure stress levels in these animals. The present work ascertained the biological and ecological attributes that influence the leukocyte profile of Antilophia galeata (Lichtenstein, 1823), the helmeted manakin. This species has been deemed useful in ecological studies because it responds to environmental changes. Blood samples drawn from 89 individuals of A. galeata captured in a Cerrado forest fragment were subjected to analysis under optical microscopy to identify and quantify leukocytes and micronuclei. The number of lymphocytes was greater for males, non-reproductive individuals and individuals infected with ticks. None of the leukocyte components differed in relation to age, molting or body condition index. The amount of micronuclei was correlated with values for total leukocytes, H/L ratio, heterophils, basophils and monocytes. The results suggest that reproduction may be an immunosuppressive factor for the species, producing sexual differences in lymphocyte availability. In addition, biomarkers of genotoxic damage (micronuclei) were related to the amount of leukocytes, indicating that individuals may be sensitive to environmental disturbances. Leukocyte profiles can be considered a useful tool for addressing ecological questions that are relevant to the conservation of species in degraded environments.