Production of the neutrophil-activating peptide (NAP)-1/IL-8 by mononuclear phagocytes from patients with RA and from control subjects was studied under various conditions. Mononuclear cells from bone marrow (BMMC), PBMC, and synovial fluid (SFMC) were cultured for up to 48 h in the absence or presence of Escherichia coli LPS, different interleukins, interferon-gamma, zymosan, or immune complexes, and the neutrophil-stimulating activity released into the culture medium was determined. As shown by neutralization with an antiserum raised against human recombinant NAP-1/IL-8, over 90% of this activity could be attributed to NAP-1/IL-8. In unstimulated mononuclear cells from control individuals and BMMC from RA patients, the production of NAP-1/IL-8 was very low and was enhanced moderately by stimulation with LPS. By contrast, the spontaneous production of NAP-1/IL-8 was 3- to 10-fold higher in PBMC and even much higher in SFMC from RA patients. In all instances, the yield of NAP-1/IL-8 could be enhanced by stimulation in culture. In addition to LPS, rheumatoid factor-containing immune complexes, zymosan, and IL-1 were highly effective in inducing NAP-1/IL-8 production, while IL-3, GM-CSF, tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and IL-2 were somewhat less potent. An inhibitory effect was obtained with IFN-gamma, which significantly decreased the spontaneous NAP-1/IL-8 release from SFMC and the IL-1- and LPS-induced NAP-1/IL-8 from RA and control PBMC. Inhibition was also observed with glucocorticoids. The production of NAP-1/IL-8 was markedly reduced by dexamethasone in phagocytosis-stimulated PBMC, and almost totally inhibited in SFMC obtained from joints after intraarticular administration of betamethasone. By contrast, the cyclooxygenase inhibitor, indomethacin, tended to increase the NAP-1/IL-8 yield from PBMC in culture.