The role of tyrosine kinases in the responses of human neutrophils to chemotactic factors was examined using the recently described inhibitor erbstatin. Pre-incubation with erbstatin decreased the amount of tyrosine phosphorylation induced by the formylated oligopeptide formyl- methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine (fMet-Leu-Phe) without effecting the binding of [3H]-fMet-Leu-Phe. Erbstatin also dose-dependently inhibited the production of superoxide anion induced by fMet-Leu-Phe and platelet- activating factor, but did not affect the oxidative burst induced by either the calcium ionophore A23187 or the phorbol ester phorbol 12- myristate 13-acetate. Furthermore, erbstatin diminished the cytosolic acidification elicited by fMet-Leu-Phe, platelet-activating factor, and leukotriene B4. In contrast, erbstatin was without effect on the increase in the levels of cytoplasmic free calcium and polymerized actin elicited by fMet-Leu-Phe, C5a, leukotriene B4 and platelet- activating factor, whereas the increase in cytoplasmic free calcium elicited by platelet-derived growth factor was inhibited by erbstatin. In addition, erbstatin affected neither the release of elastase stimulated by these agonists nor the release of beta-glucosaminidase, lysozyme or vitamin B12-binding protein induced by fMet-Leu-Phe. These results indicate that tyrosine protein kinases are involved in the signaling pathways employed by chemotactic factors in the stimulation of selective functional responses (and superoxide production in particular) in human neutrophils.