CD31 is a 130,000 MW cell-surface glycoprotein expressed on endothelial cells, polymorphonuclear leucocytes, monocytes and about 50% of peripheral blood lymphocytes, and it has been proposed that it plays a role in transendothelial migration. If it is involved in endothelial transmigration of lymphocytes then the proportion of CD31+ cells should be increased in the lymphocyte population which has crossed an endothelial monolayer. This was tested using two endothelial types, namely human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) and rat high endothelial venule (RHEV) cells. As a control, lymphocyte CD45RA and CD45RO expression was also determined since there is a correlation between lymphocytes bearing these isoforms and different migratory patterns. Double labelling techniques showed a close correlation between CD31 and CD45RA expression. With HUVEC monolayers, the transmigrated lymphocyte population was depleted of CD31+ cells. This depletion was even more marked if the HUVEC monolayers had been stimulated with interleukin-1 beta (IL-1 beta). The migrated lymphocytes were enriched for CD31-CD45RO+ cells but depleted of CD31+CD45RA+ cells. In addition, lymphocyte populations depleted of CD31+ cells by immunopanning were also able to migrate across HUVEC monolayers. Taken together these data suggest that lymphocyte CD31 expression is not necessary for transmigration across HUVEC monolayers and, if anything, is negatively correlated with transmigration. With the second endothelial cell type, RHEV cells, there was no consistent change in the proportion of CD31+ lymphocyte in the transmigrated population, suggesting neither a positive nor a negative correlation between CD31+ expression and lymphocyte transmigration across RHEV cells. However, with both endothelial cell types, the migrated lymphocyte populations were enriched for the marker CD45RO. In conclusion, lymphocyte surface expression of CD31 is not necessary for transmigration across the endothelial cell types used in this study, but with both cell types an enrichment of CD45RO+ lymphocytes is seen in the migrated population.