The pattern of chemoattractant cytokine gene (IP-10, JE, KC) expression has been examined in BALB/c 3T3 fibroblasts and MC3T3-E1 osteoblasts in response to a variety of different inflammatory stimuli, including IFN gamma, TNF alpha, IL-1 alpha, and IL-6. Both cell types expressed JE and IP-10 mRNAs but the response pattern varied in a stimulus- and gene-dependent fashion. KC mRNA was only expressed in BALB/c 3T3 cells stimulated by IL-1 alpha. The time dependence for expression was distinctive for each gene but was comparable despite different forms of stimulation. Nevertheless, the mechanisms involved in the induction of each gene varied with the stimulus and involved both transcriptional and post-transcriptional components. These findings reflect the diversity of chemokine gene expression in vivo and may be important in mechanistic understanding of the diversity of inflammatory response patterns.