In a previous study we observed that neutrophils respond with a rapid rise in [Ca2+]i during adherence to cytokine-activated endothelial cells (EC), caused by EC membrane-associated platelet-activating factor (PAF). In the present study, we investigated whether this form of PAF was important in neutrophil adherence and migration across monolayers of rIL-1 beta- or rTNF alpha-prestimulated EC. PAF receptor antagonists prevented neutrophil migration across cytokine-pretreated EC by approximately 60% (P less than 0.005) without interfering with the process of adherence. The antagonists WEB 2086 and L-652,731 had no effect on neutrophil migration across resting EC induced by formylmethionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine (FMLP). A murine anti-IL-8 antiserum was found to also partially inhibit the neutrophil transmigration across cytokine-activated EC. When the anti-IL-8 antiserum was used in combination with a PAF receptor antagonist, neutrophil migration across cytokine-pretreated monolayers of EC was completely prevented. During transmigration, LAM-1 and CD44 on the neutrophils were down-modulated; both WEB 2086 and anti-IL-8 antiserum partially prevented this down-modulation caused by cytokine-prestimulated EC. Our results indicate that human neutrophils are activated and guided by EC-associated PAF and EC-derived IL-8 during the in vitro diapedesis in between cytokine-stimulated EC.