In order for neutrophils to function effectively in host defense, they have evolved specific attributes including the ability to migrate to the site of inflammation and release an array of toxic products including proteolytic enzymes, reactive oxygen species, and cationic proteins. While these compounds are intended for killing invading pathogens, if released inappropriately, they may also contribute to tissue damage. Such inflammatory tissue injury may be important in the pathogenesis of a variety of clinical disorders including arthritis, ischemia-reperfusion tissue injury, the systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS), and the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Despite the importance of neutrophil function in host defense and dysfunction in disease states, much remains unknown about the intracellular signaling pathways regulating neutrophil activity. This review will focus on the signaling molecules regulating leukocyte 'effector' functions including receptors, GTP-binding proteins, phospholipases, polyphosphoinositide metabolism, and protein kinases and phosphatases.