Two local events that are crucial for T cell emigration into tissue are (1) activation of T cell integrins to permit binding to endothelial counter-receptors and (2) directed migration through the endothelium and into tissue in response to chemotactic factors. Because the chemokines macrophage inflammatory protein-1 alpha (MIP-1 alpha) and MIP-1 beta can activate adhesion and induce migration of T cells in vitro, we investigated their expression in human liver allografts to determine whether they might be involved in regulating the recruitment of T cells to allografts in vivo. Both chemokines were expressed strongly by infiltrating leukocytes during rejection and could be detected immunohistochemically on biliary epithelium, an important target for T cell mediated graft damage. Both chemokines, but particularly MIP-1 beta, were detected on the vascular and sinusoidal endothelium of rejecting liver allografts, where they were coexpressed with the T cell beta 1-integrin receptor vascular cell adhesion molecule-1. In situ hybridization with complementary ribonucleic acid probes showed no MIP-1 alpha or MIP-1 beta mRNA in normal liver but dramatic expression of both chemokines in infiltrating leukocytes and graft endothelium during rejection. Expression was reduced after successful corticosteroid treatment of rejection but persisted in patients progressing to chronic rejection. Increased MIP-1 alpha and MIP-1 beta mRNA expression was already found in biopsies taken at the end of the transplant operation, suggesting that early induction of chemokines, possibly in response to graft reperfusion, might promote the subsequent development of graft rejection. These data demonstrate for the first time that MIP-1 alpha and MIP-1 beta are (1) expressed in human liver allografts, (2) produced by endothelial cells in vivo, and (3) induced early after transplantation. They suggest that MIP-1 alpha and MIP-1 beta produced by graft infiltrating leukocytes and graft endothelium might play a crucial role in regulating T cell recruitment to liver allografts in vivo.