Pretreatment of endothelial cells with cytokines enhances the adherence of leukocytes, a process that is mediated by surface proteins expressed on both cell types. A three-dimensional model system for the simultaneous determination of leukocyte adherence and migration was used to study the contribution of CD11/CD18, endothelial leukocyte- adhesion molecule-1 (ELAM-1) and VLA-4 in neutrophil and monocyte adherence to and migration through cytokine-activated endothelial cells. Pretreatment of endothelial cells for 4 hours with recombinant interleukin-1 beta (rIL-1 beta) was found to enhance neutrophil adherence and migration to a much greater extent than monocyte adherence and migration. Neutrophil adherence was almost completely prevented by the combined use of monoclonal antibodies (MoAbs) against ELAM-1 and CD18. Although ELAM-1 has been designated an endothelial cell-specific cytokine-inducible receptor for neutrophils, we observed that ENA2, an anti-ELAM-1 MoAb, significantly reduced monocyte adherence about 30%. MoAbs against VLA-4, the ligand of the cytokine- inducible receptor VCAM-1, did not affect monocyte adherence. However, the combined use of the MoAbs against CD18, ELAM-1, and VLA-4 had a very strong and additive inhibitory effect on rIL-1 beta-induced monocyte adherence. The anti-CD18 MoAb reduced both rIL-1 beta-induced neutrophil and monocyte migration far below the level of the unstimulated controls, whereas neither the anti-ELAM-1 nor the anti-VLA- 4 MoAb significantly affected the process of migration. Our results indicate that neutrophils and monocytes initially adhere to cytokine- activated endothelial cells by CD18-independent and (to a lesser extent) by CD18-dependent mechanisms and subsequently change gears to a completely CD18-dependent migratory mechanism.