We evaluated neutrophil adhesive function in patients undergoing chronic hemodialysis using either prostacyclin or heparin as antithrombotic agents. Patients underwent successive hemodialyses with prostacyclin (4 ng/kg/min) and heparin. There were no significant differences noted in neutrophil adhesive function during either dialysis: transient neutropenia developed in each case; impaired neutrophil adhesiveness to plastic developed during both dialyses; neutrophil aggregation was diminished when compared to predialysis responses during both dialyses. Furthermore, the number of circulating Fc-receptor-bearing neutrophils fell significantly during both prostacyclin and heparin hemodialysis. Our study demonstrates that substitution of prostacyclin for heparin in doses that do not cause hypotension, does not prevent neutropenia or alter the diminished neutrophil adhesiveness that occurs during heparin hemodialysis.