The presence of polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs) within the airways is a characteristic feature of a variety of lung diseases. Pulmonary alveolar macrophages (PAMs) and epithelial cells release many different factors which contribute to the recruitment of inflammatory cells into infected airways. PAMs and tracheal epithelial cells are able to produce linoleic acid metabolites (9-HODE and 13-HODE) besides arachidonic acid metabolites. The objective of the present study was to determine whether 9-HODE and 13-HODE possess chemotactic activity for isolated PMNs. It was found that 9-HODE and 13-HODE induced a chemotactic response of both human and bovine PMNs in vitro. The HODEs evoked chemotaxis with a linear dose response from 10(-10) to 10(-6) M to the same extent as the arachidonic acid metabolite 15-HETE. At 10(-8) M, 9-HODE and 13-HODE were approximately half as potent in inducing chemotaxis as compared to LTB4.