The beta-chemokines monocyte chemotactic protein 1 (MCP-1), macrophage inflammatory protein 1 alpha (MIP-1alpha), MIP-1beta and regulated on activation, normal T cells, expressed and secreted (RANTES) induced the in vitro migration of the monocytic cell line MonoMac-6. MCP-1 exhibits the most potent chemotactic effect on this cell line while MIP-1alpha, RANTES and to a lesser extent MIP-1beta were more moderate inducers of cell migration. MonoMac-6 migration in response to chemokines was shown to be a chemotactic and not a chemokinetic response, which was inhibited by pertussis and cholera toxins suggesting a role for G proteins in chemokine receptor-mediated signalling in these cells; chemotaxis of MonoMac-6 cells in response to MCP-1 was abrogated by the addition of anti-MCP-1 antibody. The response of MonoMac-6 cells to the alpha-chemokines IL-8, IP-10, growth-related peptide (Gro) alpha and MIP-2beta was substantially weaker than to the beta-chemokines. MCP-1 caused an alteration in cellular morphology by increasing ruffling at the cell membrane and the number of cells exhibiting extended pseudopodia. The chemotactic response of MonoMac-6 cells to beta-chemokines was compared with less well-differentiated myelomonocytic cell lines. THP-1 showed a similar, but weaker response to the beta-chemokines while both HL60 and U937 failed to respond to any member of this subfamily when tested under the same conditions. These results suggest that the differentiation status of cells of monocytic lineage may affect their response to beta-chemokines.