Immunohistochemistry of human atherosclerotic arteries demonstrates expression of the intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) on endothelial cells, macrophages, and smooth muscle cells of the plaques. Normal arterial endothelial cells and intimal smooth muscle outside plaques give weaker or negative reactions; these differ from the strong endothelial expression in small vessels. Quantitative color-image analysis of the endothelial layer shows increased expression of ICAM-1 in all subtypes of atherosclerotic lesions, except fibrous plaques. Endothelial expression of ICAM-1 may be involved in the recruitment of monocytes to the lesion, as suggested by its role in the entry of leukocytes, including monocytes, into foci of inflammation. Collaboration with other mechanisms, particularly chemoattractant factors, may be important for this effect. ICAM-1 enhanced monocyte recruitment is a potential mechanism for the growth of an atherosclerotic plaque.