The expression of chemokine binding sites on the endothelial cells of venules in inflamed synovia was examined and whether the Duffy antigen/receptor for chemokines (DARC) was involved. In situ binding assays were performed to determine the expression of chemokine binding sites from rheumatoid (n = 10) and non-rheumatoid (n = 10) synovia. The expression of DARC protein and mRNA was examined by immunohistochemistry and northern blotting. The involvement of DARC in chemokine binding was studied by incubating sections with blocking antibodies to DARC (Fy3 and 6), to find out if these reduced 125I-IL-8 binding. Binding of radiolabelled chemokines IL-8, RANTES, MCP-1, but not MIP-1alpha, was found on venular endothelial cells in inflamed synovia from both rheumatoid and non-rheumatoid patients. Excess homologous unlabelled chemokine displaced binding and excess unlabelled RANTES could displace radiolabelled IL-8 binding. DARC protein expression was demonstrated on venular endothelial cells in all samples and DARC mRNA could be detected in extracts from synovia. There was downregulation of DARC protein and mRNA in rheumatoid samples. Binding of IL-8 to both rheumatoid and non-rheumatoid synovia was significantly reduced in the presence of anti-DARC Fy3 and Fy6 monoclonal antibodies. These findings show the expression of a multispecific chemokine binding site on the inflamed synovial endothelium, with evidence for involvement of DARC. This suggests a potential role for DARC in the inflammatory processes involved in synovitis.