Erythrocyte velocity, vessel diameter, leukocyte rolling velocity, and number of adherent and emigrated leukocytes were measured in postcapillary venules both before and during superfusion of rat mesentery with either aspirin or sodium salicylate. In some experiments, animals were treated with either a leukotriene (LT)-synthesis inhibitor (L-663,536), an LTD4 antagonist (MK-571), an LTB4 antagonist (SC-41930), misoprostol, or prostaglandin (PG) I2, then the aspirin protocol was repeated. Superfusion of aspirin but not sodium salicylate resulted in increased leukocyte adherence and a reduced leukocyte rolling velocity but did not affect leukocyte emigration. Aspirin-induced leukocyte adhesion was effectively prevented by the LT-synthesis inhibitor and LTB4 antagonist but not by the LTD4 antagonist. Misoprostol and PGI2 also prevented the aspirin-induced adhesion responses. Superfusion of the mesentery with either platelet-activating factor (PAF) or LTB4 enhanced leukocyte adherence and emigration while reducing leukocyte rolling velocity. Sodium salicylate prevented all of the adhesion responses elicited by LTB4. Although salicylate did not affect the PAF-induced leukocyte adherence and rolling responses, it completely prevented the increased leukocyte emigration. These results indicate that aspirin promotes, whereas sodium salicylate inhibits, leukocyte-endothelial cell adhesive interactions at therapeutically relevant concentrations.