To determine the role of chemokines in the pathogenesis of systemic sclerosis (SSc), we examined serum levels, spontaneous production by peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), and histological distribution in the affected skin, of MCP-1, MIP-1alpha and MIP-1beta in SSc patients. Serum levels of these chemokines were examined by ELISA in 58 patients with SSc and 20 normal controls. The levels of these chemokines in culture supernatants from PBMC were also measured by ELISA. Serum levels and spontaneous production levels by PBMC of MCP-1, MIP-1alpha, and MIP-1beta were significantly elevated in patients with SSc compared with normal controls. Elevated serum levels of MCP-1 and MIP-1alpha significantly correlated with the presence of pulmonary fibrosis. MCP-1 expression in the skin of SSc was immunohistochemically examined using anti-MCP-1 MoAb. MCP-1 was strongly expressed in the epidermis, inflammatory mononuclear cells, and vascular endothelial cells in the sclerotic skin of SSc patients, but not expressed in any control skin. Furthermore, the MCP-1 expression in inflammatory mononuclear cells and endothelial cells significantly correlated with earlier onset of SSc. Thus, MCP-1, MIP-1alpha and MIP-1beta may be involved in the disease process, possibly by augmenting leucocyte migration into the affected tissues in SSc. Furthermore, MCP-1 and MIP-1alpha may play an important role in the development of pulmonary fibrosis in SSc.