Antibodies against cellular adhesion molecules protect against neutrophil-induced hepatic injury during ischemia-reperfusion and endotoxemia. To test if beta 2 integrins on neutrophils and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) on endothelial cells are involved in neutrophil sequestration in the hepatic vasculature, neutrophil accumulation in the liver was characterized during the early phase of endotoxemia. Intravenous injection of Salmonella enteritidis endotoxin induced a dose-dependent activation of complement, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) formation, and an increase of hepatic neutrophils with maximal numbers at 5 mg/kg (90 min: 339 +/- 14 cells/50 high power fields; controls: 18 +/- 2). Administration of 15 micrograms/kg TNF-alpha and intravascular complement activation with cobra venom factor (75 micrograms/kg) had additive effects on hepatic neutrophil accumulation compared with each mediator alone. Monoclonal antibodies (2 mg/kg) to ICAM-1 and the alpha-chain (CD11a, CD11b) or the beta-chain (CD18) of beta 2 integrins had no significant effect on hepatic neutrophil count after endotoxin. In contrast, these antibodies inhibited peritoneal neutrophil infiltration in response to glycogen administration by 28% (CD11b), 60% (CD11a, ICAM-1), and 92% (CD18). Our data suggest that TNF-alpha and complement factors contribute to hepatic neutrophil sequestration during the early phase of endotoxemia. Despite the fact that these inflammatory mediators can up-regulate integrins and ICAM-1, these adhesion molecules are not necessary for neutrophil accumulation in hepatic sinusoids. The protective effect of these antibodies against neutrophil-induced liver injury appears to be due to inhibition of transendothelial migration and adherence to parenchymal cells.