Chronic active gastritis of the antral mucosa is a characteristic feature of infection with Helicobacter pylori and interactions between bacterial components and inflammatory cells are believed to play an important pathogenic role. Neutrophils stimulated with H. pylori sonicate were demonstrated to release L-selectin (CD62L) expressed on the cellular surface, with a subsequent up-regulation of the beta2-integrins CD11b and CD11c, both in a dose- and time-dependent manner, reaching maximum levels after 45-60 min of stimulation. No changes were observed for the CD11a receptor upon stimulation. The activating properties of H. pylori sonicates on neutrophils were heat-labile and susceptible to protease attack, indicating the protein nature of the activating factor. After size fractionation, the major neutrophil-inducing activity was detected in the high molecular weight fraction exhibiting urease activity. Pertussis toxin was unable to inhibit neutrophil activation by the H. pylori protein(s). We conclude that proteins from H. pylori have a potent inflammatory effect on the surface membrane molecules CD62L, CD11b and CD11c essential for transendothelial migration of neutrophils to areas of inflammation. The neutrophil-activating protein(s) act via a pertussis toxin-insensitive mechanism.