We considered the role of two neutrophil chemotactic agents (interleukin-8 and leukotriene B4) and of myeloperoxidase (a neutrophil-associated enzyme) in the pathologic condition of Crohn's disease (CD). Serial biopsy samples were taken at different sites in the colon, washed in 0.02 M phosphate-saline buffer, homogenized, and then sonicated. Interleukin-8 levels were significantly increased throughout the colonic mucosa (> 300 pg/mg protein) in patients with CD compared with control groups (< 40 pg/mg protein) (p < or = 0.01). A two- to six-fold increase in leukotriene B4 was also found in CD, whereas mucosal levels of myeloperoxidase were unchanged compared with control subjects. This study demonstrates that interleukin-8 and leukotriene B4 may have an immunologic role in the pathologic condition of CD.