Novel strategies to control the binding of adhesion molecules belonging to the selectin family are required for the treatment of inflammatory diseases. We tested the possibility that synthetic monosaccharide analogs can compete with naturally occurring sugars to alter the O-glycan content on human leukocyte cell surface selectin-ligand, P-selectin glycoprotein ligand-1 (PSGL-1). Resulting reduction in the sialyl Lewis-X-bearing epitopes on this ligand may reduce cell adhesion. Consistent with this hypothesis, 50muM per-acetylated 4F-GalNAc added to the growth media of promyelocytic HL-60 cells reduced the expression of the cutaneous lymphocyte associated-antigen (HECA-452 epitope) by 82% within 2 cell doubling cycles. Cell binding to all 3 selectins (L-, E-, and P-selectin) was reduced in vitro. 4F-GalNAc was metabolically incorporated into PSGL-1, and this was accompanied by an approximately 20% reduction in PSGL-1 glycan content. A 70% to 85% reduction in HECA-452 binding epitope and N-acetyl lactosamine content in PSGL-1 was also noted on 4F-GalNAc addition. Intravenous 4F-GalNAc infusion reduced leukocyte migration to the peritoneum in a murine model of thioglycolate-induced peritonitis. Thus, the compound has pharmacologic activity. Overall, the data suggest that 4F-GalNAc may be applied as a metabolic inhibitor to reduce O-linked glycosylation, sialyl Lewis-X formation, and leukocyte adhesion via the selectins.