While the mechanisms underlying the marked sexual dimorphism in inflammatory diseases are not well understood, the sexually dimorphic sympathoadrenal axis profoundly affects the inflammatory response. We tested whether adrenergic receptor-mediated activation of human neutrophil function is sexually dimorphic, since neutrophils provide the first line of defense in the inflammatory response. There was a marked sexual dimorphism in beta(2)-adrenergic receptor binding, using the specific beta(2)-adrenergic receptor ligand, [(3)H]-dihydroalprenolol, with almost three times more binding sites on neutrophils from females (20,878 +/- 2470) compared to males (7331 +/- 3179). There was also a marked sexual dimorphism in the effects of isoprenaline, a beta-adrenergic receptor agonist, which increased nondirected locomotion (chemokinesis) in neutrophils obtained from females, while having no effect on neutrophils from males. Isoprenaline stimulated the release of a chemotactic factor from neutrophils obtained from females, but not from males. This chemotactic factor acts on the G protein-coupled CXC chemokine receptor 2 (CXCR2) chemokine receptor, since an anti-CXCR2 antibody and the selective nonpeptide CXCR2 antagonist SB225002, inhibited chemotaxis produced by this factor. While interleukin- (IL-) 8 is a principal CXCR2 ligand, isoprenaline did not produce an increase in IL-8 release from neutrophils. IL-8-induced chemotaxis was inhibited in a sexually dimorphic manner by isoprenaline, which also stimulated release of a mediator from neutrophils that induced chemotaxis, that was inhibited by anti-CXCR2 antibodies. These findings indicate an important role for adrenergic receptors in the modulation of neutrophil trafficking, which could contribute to sex-differences in the inflammatory response.