To be more precise:
The ifconfig settings are all fine and the card comes up at boot time. I am using a Dell PowerEdge 2600 with RedHat 8.0. The card does not ARP it's MAC address to the network. Result: I need to manually ping out of the box to instigate a connection that frequently times out, especially after extended quiet periods.
Not using DHCP (will try next). The card is an Intel Pro 100/1000 (or so) and the same problem occurs with the embedded NIC as well as the additional one that we have in Slot 7. Have tried new cards, new motherboard, changing cables.