Neutrophils are known to play an important role in inflammatory responses by virtue of their ability to perform a series of effector functions that collectively represent a major mechanism of innate immunity against injury and infection. In recent years, however, it has become obvious that the contribution of neutrophils to host defence and natural immunity extends well beyond their traditional role as professional phagocytes. Indeed, neutrophils can be induced to express a number of genes whose products lie at the core of inflammatory and immune responses. These include not only Fc receptors, complement components, cationic antimicrobial and NADPH oxidase proteins, but also a variety of cytokines (including tumour necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin (IL)-1beta, IL-1R alpha, IL-12 and vascular endothelial growth factor), and chemokines such as IL-8, growth-related gene product, macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP)-1alpha, MIP-1beta, interferon-gamma-inducible protein of 10 kDa and monokine induced by interferon-gamma. Because these chemokines are primarily chemotactic for neutrophils, monocytes, immature dendritic cells and T-lymphocyte subsets, a potential role for neutrophils in orchestrating the sequential recruitment of distinct leukocyte types to the inflamed tissue is likely to occur. The purpose of this review is to summarize the essential features of the production of chemokines by polymorphonuclear neutrophil leukocytes and the contribution that we have made to characterize some aspects of this newly discovered crucial function of neutrophils.