Non-activated neutrophils strongly adhere to cytokine-activated human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVE). However, activation of neutrophils by different chemotactic mediators led to potent inhibition of this endothelial-dependent interaction. For different formylated peptides, concentrations leading to maximal adherence inhibition coincided with those known for inducing maximal chemotactic migration of neutrophils. In terms of maximal adherence inhibition, a rank list was found in the order of N-formyl-Met-Leu-Phe > C5adesArg > interleukin-8 > C5a > or = leukotriene B4, whereas platelet-activating factor, and lipopolysaccharide showed no inhibition. This rank order was congruent to that of down-regulation of neutrophil L-selectin detected by the monoclonal antibody Leu-8. Moreover, the dose-dependent increase of neutrophil adherence inhibition corresponded to the loss of L-selectin expression. Concentrations higher than that required for maximal inhibition led to a dose-dependent decrease of inhibition, which was accompanied by increasing expression of neutrophil CD11/CD18. In contrast to the capacity of non-activated neutrophils to migrate across interleukin-1-activated HUVE monolayers, transmigration was significantly impaired after chemotactic activation.