Azurocidin (heparin-binding protein/cationic antimicrobial protein of 37 kD) is a protein that is mobilized rapidly from emigrating polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN). Initially, this inactive serine protease was recognized for its antimicrobial effects. However, it soon became apparent that azurocidin may act to alarm the immune system in different ways and thus serve as an important mediator during the initiation of the immune response. Azurocidin, released from PMN secretory vesicles or primary granules, acts as a chemoattractant and activator of monocyte and macrophages. The functional consequence is enhancement of cytokine release and bacterial phagocytosis, allowing for a more efficient bacterial clearance. Leukocyte activation by azurocidin is mediated via beta(2)-integrins, and azurocidin-induced chemotaxis is dependent on formyl-peptide receptors. In addition, azurocidin activates endothelial cells leading to vascular leakage and edema formation. For these reasons, targeting azurocidin release and its actions may have therapeutic potential in inflammatory disease conditions.