The migration of colonic epithelial cells (restitution) is an important event in the repair of mucosal injuries. Interleukin-8 (IL-8) is a physiological initiator of the chemotactic migration of leucocytes. This study aimed to determine whether IL-8 had a similar effect on migration in an in vitro model of wounded colonic epithelium. Cell migration over 24 h was assessed in circular wounds made in confluent monolayers of the human colon cancer cell line LIM1215. This migration was stimulated in a concentration-dependent manner by IL-8, with maximal effects of approx. 1.75-fold above basal migration. The motogenic effect of IL-8 was mediated independently of effects on cell proliferation. In contrast, it was partially dependent upon gene transcription and protein synthesis and involved the activation of pertussis-toxin-sensitive G-proteins. The short-chain fatty acids, acetate, propionate, butyrate and valerate, the activator of protein kinase C (phorbol-12-myristate-13-acetate) and tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) all stimulated the secretion of IL-8. However, only the motogenic effect of TNF-alpha was dependent upon IL-8. In conclusion, IL-8 stimulated cell migration in an in vitro model of colonic epithelium, whereas the motogenic effect of at least one physiologically relevant factor was dependent upon an increase in its endogenous levels. If IL-8 stimulates colonic epithelial restitution in vivo, this would have ramifications for the control of repair processes following wounding of the colonic mucosa.