Several studies have demonstrated that bronchial epithelial cells are capable of synthesizing proinflammatory cytokines that may influence eosinophil and neutrophil activity. We have cultured human bronchial epithelial cells to confluence, as explant cultures, and investigated the effect of conditioned medium from these cells on (1) the chemotaxis of eosinophils and neutrophils and (2) the adherence of these cells to cultured human endothelial cells. Analysis of cytokines, namely interleukin-1 beta (IL-1 beta), interleukin-8 (IL-8), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF alpha), granulocyte/macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), and RANTES, which are thought to be involved in these processes, demonstrated that all these cytokines were synthesized and released constitutively from the bronchial epithelial cell cultures. Conditioned medium obtained after 24 h of incubation significantly increased the chemotaxis of eosinophils and neutrophils, from median values of 4.0 cells/per high power field (hpf) (range, 3.0 to 7.0) and 17 cells/hpf (range, 13.0 to 25.0), respectively, for medium 199, to median values of 11.0 cells/hpf (range, 9 to 12; P = 0.005) and 30 cells/hpf (range, 19 to 33; p = 0.01). Whereas anti-GM-CSF and anti-IL-8 neutralizing monoclonal antibodies significantly attenuated the conditioned medium-induced chemotaxis of eosinophils and neutrophils, anti-RANTES neutralizing antibody significantly attenuated the chemotaxis of only eosinophils. Conditioned medium also significantly increased the percentage of eosinophils and neutrophils adhering to endothelial cells in a dose-dependent manner. Both anti-human TNF alpha and anti-human IL-1 beta neutralizing antibodies significantly attenuated the conditioned medium-induced adherence of eosinophils and neutrophils to the endothelial cells and were found to have an additive effect when studied together. Similarly, treatment of endothelial cells with either anti-ICAM-1 or anti-E-selectin, for 1 h before co-culture with eosinophils and neutrophils, significantly attenuated the conditioned medium-induced adherence of both eosinophils and neutrophils to endothelial cells. Treatment of endothelial cells with anti-VCAM-1 attenuated the adherence of eosinophils but not neutrophils. These results suggest that human bronchial epithelial cells, through their ability to generate proinflammatory mediators, are likely to play a role in the pathogenesis of airway disease by influencing chemotaxis and adherence of eosinophils and neutrophils.