The association of macrophages engaged in polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) particle phagocytosis with pockets of inflammatory cells is a pathognomonic feature of the aseptically loose interface not present at the well-fixed interface. The mechanism by which the presence of PMMA particles leads to cellular recruitment, bone resorption, and ultimate loosening is poorly understood. Granulocyte macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) and interleukin 6 (IL-6), cytokines released by osteoblasts, stimulate the recruitment of macrophages into sites of inflammation. We show that exposure of macrophages to PMMA particles stimulated release of tumor necrosis factor (TNF), but no increase in prostaglandin E2 (PGE-2) or interleukin 1. Incubation of osteoblasts with conditioned medium from macrophages exposed to PMMA particles led to release of GM-CSF, IL-6, and PGE-2. Incubation of the PMMA/macrophage medium with antibodies to TNF prior to osteoblast exposure inhibited release of GM-CSF, IL-6, and PGE-2 by the osteoblasts. Our data demonstrate that exposure of macrophages to PMMA particles leads to the release of TNF which then stimulates osteoblasts to produce GM-CSF, IL-6 and PGE-2. Based upon the results of this study , we propose that the process of cellular recruitment in aseptic loosening is initiated when the mechanical failure of the cement mantle leads to the production of PMMA particles. These particles are phagocytized by macrophages leading to the production of TNF. TNF stimulates surrounding osteoblasts to produce GM-CSF, IL-6, and PGE-2 which leads to recruitment of macrophages and osteoclasts into the area of the bone-cement interface. The recruitment of these cells potentiates this process leading to bone resorption and ultimately, clinical loosening of prosthetic joint implants.