Lipoxygenase (LO) products generated by human PMN were examined utilizing a gradient-HPLC and rapid spectral detector which permitted continuous UV-spectral monitoring of leukotrienes, lipoxins and related oxygenated products of arachidonic acid. When exposed to the ionophore A23187, PMN generated LTB4 and its omega-oxidation products as well as LXA4, LXB4, and 7-cis-11-trans-LXA4 from endogenous sources. Addition of 15-HETE changed the profile of products generated by activated PMN and led to a time- and dose-dependent increase in lipoxins and related compounds while the production of LTB4 and its omega-oxidation products was inhibited. Results of time-course and radiolabel studies revealed that 15-HETE is rapidly transformed within 15 s to 5,15-DHETE and conjugated tetraene-containing products, and that the inhibition of leukotriene formation followed a similar time-course. In contrast, PMN did not generate either lipoxins or related products from 5-[3H]HETE, nor did 5-HETE block leukotriene formation. Stimulated PMN generated 5,15-DHETE from exogenous 5-HETE, while in the absence of ionophore, 5-HETE was transformed to 5,20-HETE. These results indicate that PMN can generate lipoxins and related products from endogenous sources and that 15-HETE and 5-HETE are transformed by different routes.