Recombinant human granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (rh GM-CSF) was administered by constant intravenous infusion to eight patients with malignant disease prior to chemotherapy. rh GM-CSF was given at a dose of 15 to 25 micrograms m-2 h-1 for 1 or 2 h. Neutrophil migration into an inflammatory zone was monitored throughout this period using a micropore skin window technique. Neutrophil migration into the micropore membrane prior to the commencement of the rh GM-CSF infusion was almost identical to that in eight normal control individuals (leading front distance of migrating neutrophils in 20-min period 81.3 +/- 7 microns in the patients compared to 79.4 +/- 4 microns in the control individuals). During the rh GM-CSF infusions there was a significant fall compared to controls in the number of neutrophils entering the membrane and the leading front distance (P less than 0.05). In four out of nine patient studies (eight patients) there was a greater than 30% fall from the pre-infusion level. In the control individuals the largest fall recorded was less than 10% and overall there was a progressive rise in the number of neutrophils entering the membrane throughout the period of study. This study suggests that intravenous infusion of rh GM-CSF may impair the ability of neutrophils to infiltrate an inflammatory focus.