Activation and accumulation of leukocytes constitute a rate-limiting step in ischemia/reperfusion (I/R)-induced tissue injury. The signalling mechanisms, however, that regulate leukocyte rolling and adhesion in the colonic microcirculation are not known. The objective of the study was to define the role of CXC chemokines (MIP-2 and KC) in I/R-induced leukocyte-endothelial cell interactions in the mouse colon. In C57/B16 mice, colonic ischemia was induced by clamping the superior mesenteric artery for 30 min and leukocyte rolling and stationary adhesion were examined in venules after 120 and 240 min of reperfusion. I/R provoked a clear-cut increase in leukocyte rolling and adhesion in colonic venules. Both MIP-2 and KC were upregulated at the gene and protein level in the reperfused colon. Immunoneutralization of MIP-2 and KC by monoclonal antibodies reduced reperfusion-induced firm adhesion of leukocytes by 73% and 75%, respectively. Interestingly, combined inhibition of MIP-2 and KC additionally decreased leukocyte rolling by 79%, but did not further reduce the number of firmly adherent leukocytes. To study the role of oxygen free radicals (OFRs) in the regulation of CXC chemokine expression, additional animals were pretreated with the xanthine-oxidase inhibitor allopurinol. In fact, allopurinol treatment reduced the colonic levels of MIP-2 and KC by 62% and 64%, respectively. This study elucidates important interactions between OFRs and chemokines in the I/R-induced leukocyte response in the mouse colon. Moreover, our data demonstrate that CXC chemokines play a fundamental role in colonic I/R and that functional interference with CXC chemokines may protect against pathological inflammation in the colon.