Chronic eosinophilic pneumonia (CEP) is a rare, idiopathic lung disorder characterized pathologically by massive eosinophil infiltration into lung. In the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) of patients with CEP, eosinophil numbers were markedly increased but returned to normal-levels upon the resolution of clinical symptoms, which suggests the crucial role of eosinophils in the pathogenesis of CEP. To clarify the mechanism of eosinophil accumulation in CEP, we determined the BALF levels of RANTES and macrophage inflammatory protein-1 alpha, two chemokines that predominantly exhibit in vitro eosinophil chemotactic activities. RANTES (106.7 +/- 27.2 pg/mg albumin; n = 16) concentrations in BALF from patients with CEP were significantly elevated in comparison with those of normal control subjects (1.4 pg/mg albumin; n = 13), whereas BALF macrophage inflammatory protein-1 alpha levels were not. In addition, eosinophils, lymphocytes, and macrophages in BALF were positively stained with a specific anti-RANTES antibody, which suggests that RANTES was produced locally in the lungs of CEP patients. Moreover, BALF-RANTES levels correlated significantly with the proportion of eosinophils in BALF. Furthermore, nearly half of the eosinophil chemotactic activities in BALF were abrogated by the anti-RANTES antibody in vitro. Collectively, these data suggest that locally produced RANTES is involved in eosinophil accumulation in the pulmonary alveolus and interstitium of patients with CEP.