In order to evaluate the functions of lymphocyte function antigen-1 (LFA-1) (CD11a/CD18) and Mac-1 (CD11b/CD18) on neonatal neutrophils, we examined neutrophil adhesion to and migration through human umbilical vein endothelial cell (HUVEC) monolayers in vitro. Transendothelial migration of adult neutrophils was greatly enhanced by preincubation of HUVEC with interleukin-1 (IL-1). This migration was significantly inhibited by monoclonal antibodies (MoAbs) against LFA-1 (CD11a) and Mac-1 (CD11b) subunits. Migration of neonatal neutrophils was markedly diminished compared to adult neutrophils, and MoAbs against LFA-1 further reduced migration. In contrast, anti-Mac-1 MoAb was not inhibitory. Adhesion of adult neutrophils was significantly enhanced by prestimulation of HUVEC with IL-1, and was significantly inhibited by MoAbs against LFA-1. Adhesion of neonatal neutrophils was near adult levels and comparably inhibited by anti-LFA-1 MoAb. In addition, adhesion of neonatal and adult neutrophils to purified ICAM-1 in artificial planar membranes was comparable and almost completely inhibited by anti-LFA-1 MoAb. Chemotactic stimulation induced Mac-1- dependent adhesion of adult neutrophils to endothelial cells, purified intercellular adherence molecule-1 (ICAM-1) and protein-coated glass. In marked contrast, adhesion of neonatal neutrophils to these substrates was not significantly increased by chemotactic stimulation. These findings indicate that diminished transendothelial migration by neonatal neutrophils is related to abnormal interactions of Mac-1 with ICAM-1 and possibly other endothelial ligands. These functional deficits may contribute to impaired inflammation and infectious susceptibility in human neonates.