The elicitation of leukocytes from the circulation to inflamed tissue depends on the activation of both the leukocyte and endothelial cell. In this study we determined the gene expression and secretion patterns for the chemokines interleukin-8 (IL-8) and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) in cytokine- and lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-treated cultured human lung microvascular endothelial cells (HLE). HLE constitutively expressed low levels of MCP-1 and IL-8. Treatment of HLE with a variety of cytokines and LPS up-regulated both IL-8 mRNA expression and release of immunoreactive IL-8 with an order of potency tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) >> IL-1 alpha > LPS, whereas interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) had no effect on IL-8 mRNA or antigenic levels. However, IFN-gamma, in combination with high doses of IL-1 alpha, resulted in a synergistic increase in IL-8 generation. MCP-1 gene expression and secretion was induced in a dose-dependent manner after IL-1 alpha, TNF-alpha, IFN-gamma, and LPS activation of HLE. IL-1 alpha was the most potent inducer of MCP-1 generation and LPS was relatively ineffective. IFN-gamma, in combination with low doses of IL-1 alpha, resulted in a synergistic increase in MCP-1 generation by HLE. These results demonstrate that although IL-8 and MCP-1 generation by HLE occurs on cytokine treatment, the relative ability of a given cytokine to elicit IL-8 generation is not directly parallel to effects on MCP-1 generation. These data suggest that the regulation of IL-8 and MCP-1 expression exhibit significant differences in their mechanisms. Such differences in the expression of specific chemokines may explain the specific appearance of various leukocytes at sites of inflammation and injury. These data also directly demonstrate that the lung microvascular endothelium contribute to the cytokine network of the lung, with the ability to respond to locally generated cytokines and to produce potent mediators of the local inflammatory response.