We induced the passive reverse Arthus reaction to IgG immune complexes (IC) at different tissue sites in mice lacking C3 treated or not with a C5aR-specific antagonist, or in mice lacking mast cells (Kit(W)/Kit(W-v) mice), and compared the inflammatory responses with those in the corresponding wild-type mice. We confirmed that IC inflammation of skin can be mediated largely by mast cells expressing C5aR and FcgammaRIII. In addition, we provided evidence for C3-independent C5aR triggering, which may explain why the cutaneous Arthus reaction develops normally in C3(-/-) mice. Furthermore, some, but not all, of the acute changes associated with the Arthus response in the lung were significantly more intense in normal mice than in C3(-/-) or Kit(W)/Kit(W-v) mice, indicating for C3- and mast cell-dependent and -independent components. Finally, we demonstrated that C3 contributed to the elicitation of neutrophils to alveoli, which corresponded to an increased synthesis of TNF-alpha, macrophage-inflammatory protein-2, and cytokine-induced neutrophil chemoattractant. While mast cells similarly influenced alveolar polymorphonuclear leukocyte influx, the levels of these cytokines remained largely unaffected in mast cell deficiency. Together, the phenotypes of C3(-/-) mice and Kit(W)/Kit(W-v) mice suggest that complement and mast cells have distinct tissue site-specific requirements acting by apparently distinct mechanisms in the initiation of IC inflammation.