Although production of chemokines by vascular endothelial cells has been documented, there is only limited information regarding the expression of chemokines by the lymphatic endothelium. Here we used lymphatic endothelial cells (LEC) derived from experimentally induced murine lymphangiomas to investigate the pattern of chemokine expression by these cells. Histological analysis of the lymphatic hyperplasia revealed the presence of leucocytes in the tissues surrounding the lesions, suggesting the presence of chemoattractant activity. A functional chemotactic assay on human polymorphonuclear cells and on purified subpopulations of murine leucocytes using culture supernatants from LEC primary cultures confirmed the presence of chemoattractant activity. The identity of different cytokines of the CXC, CC and C subfamilies was investigated by reverse trancriptase-polymerase chain reaction on total endothelial cell RNA. Amplified fragments corresponding to KC, IP10, Mig-1, BCL, MIP-2, SLC, RANTES, MCP-1, C10, and Lptn were obtained, and confirmed by Southern blot and sequencing. In contrast, MIP-1alpha, MIP-1beta, and MIP-1gamma were not detected. Higher levels of expression were revealed by Northern blot analysis for Mig-1, MCP-1 and C10. The lymphatic endothelium-restricted production of these chemokines was also confirmed by in situ hybridization. The presence of high C10 mRNA expression levels in LEC was particularly unexpected, because the production of this molecule has been previously identified only in cells of the haematopoietic lineage. These observations represent the first detailed analysis of chemokine production by lymphatic endothelial cells and may account, in part, for the mechanism of leucocyte recruitment into the lymphatics, and of lymphocyte recirculation within the lymphatic system.