Interleukin-8 (IL-8) is regarded as an important mediator of inflammation because of its potent and specific chemotactic activity on neutrophils. In the present investigation, human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) stimulated with thrombin were found to produce IL-8, in a dose- and time-dependent manner. After stimulation with 10 U/ml thrombin for 24 hr, the level of IL-8 in the conditioned medium was 14 ng/ml, or enough to elicit PMN chemotaxis in vitro. Northern blot analysis revealed that thrombin as well as IL-1 beta elevates the level of IL-8 mRNA preceding the formation of IL-8 protein. A synthetic peptide SFLLRN [human thrombin receptor-activating peptide (TRAP)] was found to mimic the action of thrombin. Preincubation with anti-thrombin compounds such as hirudin and antithrombin-III-heparin almost completely suppressed the action of thrombin without affecting the actions of other stimuli including IL-1 beta, phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) and TRAP. Diisopropylfluorophosphate-treated thrombin did not stimulate IL-8 production. Calphostin-C, a protein kinase C (PKC) inhibitor, attenuated the production of IL-8 by thrombin, TRAP and PMA, but left the action of IL-1 beta unchanged. These results strongly suggest that catalytic activation of thrombin receptor by thrombin results in PKC-dependent IL-8 production accompanied by an increase in IL-8 mRNA level.