Chemokines are thought to contribute to the cellular infiltrate characteristic of renal transplant rejection. We show that Met-RANTES, a chemokine receptor antagonist, suppresses recruitment of inflammatory cells into renal allografts. In a renal transplant model (Fisher RT1(lvl) rat kidney into Lewis RT1(l) rat) where no additional immune suppressant was used, Met-RANTES-treated animals showed a significant reduction in vascular injury score (16.10 +/- 5.20 vs. 62.67 +/- 18.64) and tubular damage score (15.70 +/- 5.22 vs. 33.00 +/- 6.44) relative to untreated animals. In a more severe rejection model (Brown-Norway RT1(n) rat kidney into Lewis RT1(1) rat), Met-RANTES significantly augmented low-dose cyclosporin A treatment to reduce all aspects of renal injury including interstitial inflammation (score 71.00 +/- 6.10 vs. 157.30 +/- 21.30). The majority of infiltrating cells in these models (60-70%) consisted of monocytes. Potential mechanisms of action of Met-RANTES were tested using monocyte attachment assays on microvascular endothelium under physiological flow conditions. Preexposure of microvascular endothelium to RANTES resulted in RANTES immobilization and RANTES-induced firm adhesion of monocytes only after prestimulation of the endothelium with IL-1beta. Met-RANTES completely inhibited this RANTES-mediated arrest. Thus, Met-RANTES may counter acute rejection by blocking leukocyte firm adhesion to inflamed endothelium.