Development of novel vaginal spermicides and anti-human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) microbicides requires careful assessment of their potential to recruit and activate CD4+ HIV-1 host cells in the female genital tract mucosa, two events that facilitate HIV-1 infection. Leukocyte traffic and activation are mediated by proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines, e.g. interleukin (IL)-1, IL-6 and IL-8, which have been detected in vaginal secretions in association with epithelial damage and infections. These proinflammatory mediators, however, have bidirectional, destructive as well as beneficial, effects on the mucosal barrier, and may be counterbalanced by endogenous inhibitors. Here we propose additional biomarkers for the evaluation of compound-induced cervicovaginal mucosal inflammation. Displaying different temporal patterns of detection, the levels of soluble E-selectin, vascular adhesion molecule-1, CD14 and myeloperoxidase in vaginal secretions reflected the mucosal leukocyte reaction to proinflammatory compounds being evaluated for safety in an improved rabbit vaginal irritation model. These biomarkers, which were also detected in human vaginal secretions, may be used to enhance the characterization of mucosal safety of vaginally applied compounds, both in animal as well as clinical studies.