Interleukin-8 (IL-8) is an 8 kD chemokine and angiogenic factor produced by alveolar macrophages, endothelial cells, monocytes, fibroblasts, T lymphocytes, and epithelial cells in response to a variety of stimuli, including LPS, TNF-alpha, IL-1, IL-7, and hypoxia. Pulmonary tumors produce a variety of growth factors and cytokines that may act in both autocrine and paracrine fashion. A549, a well-characterized human lung adenocarcinoma line, was cloned for different levels of IL-8 production by limiting dilution. Clone 3B4 produced 361 +/- 73 pg/ml, and clone 2B2 produced 7818 +/- 614 pg/ml of IL-8 (p = 0.003). Clone 3B4 proliferated at 1.7 times the rate of 2B2. Anti-IL-8 reversed the decrement in proliferation of clone 2B2 by 50%, but recombinant IL-8 decreased the proliferation of 3B4 by 40-55% compared with control. In addition to A549, three other non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) lines showed significantly decreased proliferation in response to exogenous recombinant IL-8 (5-30 ng/ml; p < 0.05). These findings suggest that in addition to its chemotactic and angiogenic activities, IL-8 may inhibit lung tumor proliferation by both autocrine and paracrine pathways.