Eotaxin is a potent and specific eosinophil chemoattractant that is mobilized in the respiratory epithelium after allergic stimulation. Pulmonary levels of eotaxin mRNA are known to increase after allergen exposure in sensitized animals. In this study we demonstrate that TNF alpha and IL-1beta induce the accumulation of eotaxin mRNA in the pulmonary epithelial cell lines A549 and BEAS 2B in a dose-dependent manner. Cytokine-induced A549 cell mRNA accumulation was maximal at 4 h and was significantly enhanced when the cells were costimulated with IFNgamma. TNFalpha- and IL-1beta-induced increases in eotaxin mRNA were diminished in a dose-dependent manner by the glucocorticoid dexamethasone and were augmented by the protein synthesis inhibitor cycloheximide. Cytokine-induced increases in eotaxin mRNA expression correlated with increased eotaxin protein production and secretion, and dexamethasone inhibition of cytokine-induced eotaxin mRNA augmentation was associated with diminished eotaxin protein secretion. These findings, together with the known kinetics of TNF alpha and IL-1beta mobilization in asthmatic airways and the potent eosinophil chemotactic effects of eotaxin, define a mechanism linking inflammatory cytokine mobilization to eosinophil recruitment that may be relevant to the pathogenesis of asthma.