Chemokines are cytokines specialized for recruiting leukocytes in inflammatory responses. Recent data indicate that besides macrophages and leukocytes fibroblasts may also be a source of these important immune molecules. We assayed chemokine expression (mRNA/ protein) in cultured fibroblasts isolated from a variety of human tissues and different pathologic states: normal bone marrow vs. myelometaplastic spleen, normal lung vs. metastasis stroma, and normal breast vs. radiation fibrosis and tumor stroma. In all fibroblasts, transcripts for chemokines IL-8, stromal cell-derived factor-1, monocyte chemotactic protein (MCP)-1 and eotaxin were detected. Although the production of IL-8 was abundant in most of the fibroblasts studied, fibroblasts from lung and pathologic breast tissue produced significantly less. Conversely, eotaxin production was low in most fibroblasts except in those isolated from myelometaplastic tissue where it was highly produced. Moreover, chemokines MCP-4, RANTES and macrophage inflammatory protein-1alpha were found to be expressed only in fibroblasts from select tissues. When the expression of CD40, an activating surface molecule for immune cells, was investigated, we found that most of the fibroblasts expressed this antigen. Overall these results indicate that cultured human fibroblasts from various tissues and pathologic settings produce a distinct panel of chemokines and express CD 40, suggesting a possible fundamental role of fibroblasts in immune responses and disease processes.