FMLP (N-formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine) and other N-formylpeptides are powerful "activators" of polymorphonuclear and mononuclear phagocytes, but they are also active on other cell types. Present knowledge about formylpeptide receptors and the relevant tools for their imaging and the study of their dynamics are briefly discussed. The main responses elicited by FMLP in granulocytes are cell polarisation, the generation of reactive oxygen species, the production of arachidonic acid metabolites, and the release of lysosomal enzymes. The transduction cascades involved and the agents able to modulate these responses are reviewed. Homologous desensitization and heterologous desensitization of the FMLP-receptor following ligation of other chemokine receptors are also outlined. Finally, the receptor expression and the pharmacological and toxic actions of FMLP upon other tissues and organs, and its actions on the developing embryo, are illustrated.