We have investigated the regulation and function of the chemokine receptor CXCR4 on neutrophils. CXCR4 is hardly detectable on neutrophils in the peripheral blood. However, overnight culture strongly up-regulates CXCR4 expression on the cell surface. The functional activity of CXCR4 on cultured neutrophils was confirmed by stromal cell-derived factor (SDF)-induced migration and up-regulation of the integrins CD11b and CD11c. CXCR4 surface expression on neutrophils but not on lymphocytes and monocytes is rapidly down-regulated after stimulation with TNF-alpha and IFN-gamma, resulting in significantly decreased SDF-induced functional responses of neutrophils. In contrast to surface expression, CXCR4 mRNA expression was several-fold increased in cytokine-stimulated neutrophils, suggesting a post-translational regulation. By confocal microscopy we demonstrate that CXCR4 is internalized after stimulation with TNF-alpha and IFN-gamma. Tauhe down-modulation of CXCR4 surface expression in response to TNF-alpha and IFN-gamma was fully reversible after cytokine removal. Further, CXCR4 down-modulation could be completely blocked by hypertonic sucrose and significantly reduced by chlorpromazine indicating the involvement of clathrin-coated pits. Internalization of CXCR4 by cytokines in a cell type-specific manner is a novel and functionally important mechanism of chemokine receptor regulation.