Platelet-activating factor (PAF) promotes adhesion of neutrophil granulocytes to the endothelium, which is also linked to neutrophil survival. Here we report that PAF can prolong neutrophil survival by suppressing spontaneous apoptosis. PAF induced concurrent activation of the Ras/Raf-1/mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MAPKK)/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt pathways. ERK activation tightly correlated with up-regulation of CD11b/CD18 expression and beta(2)-integrin-dependent homotypic adhesion. These actions of PAF were markedly attenuated by the MAPKK/ERK inhibitor PD98059, but not by the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase inhibitor wortmannin. By contrast, concurrent activation of ERK and Akt was required to inhibit caspase-3 activation and consequently to delay apoptosis. Consistently, pharmacological inhibition of either ERK or Akt partially reversed the anti-apoptotic action of PAF; however, they did not produce additive inhibition. These results indicate that PAF-induced activation of ERK contributes to both the expression of the pro-adhesive phenotype and repression of neutrophil apoptosis, thereby amplifying the inflammatory response.