The aim of this study was to look at the role of alpha 1-acid glycoprotein as a natural anti-inflammatory agent with particular respect to its antineutrophil and anticomplement activity. A recombinantly engineered form of sialyl Lewisx (sLe(x))-bearing alpha 1-acid glycoprotein (sAGP) was administered intravenously to pentobarbital-anesthetized rats after 50 min of intestinal ischemia just before 4 h of reperfusion. A non-sLe(x)-bearing form of AGP (nsAGP) was used as control. sAGP-treated animals had a 62% reduction (P < 0.05) in remote lung injury, assessed by 125I-albumin permeability, compared with those treated with nsAGP (permeability index of 3.61 +/- 0.15 x 10(-3) and 5.18 +/- 0.67 x 10(-3), respectively). There was a reduction in pulmonary myeloperoxidase levels in sAGP-treated rats compared with nsAGP-treated rats. Complement-dependent intestinal injury, assessed by 125I-albumin permeability was reduced by 28% (P < 0.05) in animals treated with sAGP (7.58 +/- 0.63) compared with those treated with nsAGP (10.4 +/- 0.54). We conclude that sAGP ameliorates both complement- and neutrophil-mediated injuries.