The respiratory burst induced in human eosinophils by serum-treated zymosan (STZ) was found to be almost completely prevented by preincubation of the cells with WEB 2086, an antagonist of platelet- activating factor (PAF). When eosinophils were primed by the addition of 1 mumol/L PAF, subsequent addition of WEB 2086 had only a minor effect on the STZ-induced respiratory burst. These results suggest a role for PAF synthesis and PAF release in the activation of the respiratory burst by STZ. Indeed, supernatant of STZ-stimulated eosinophils was able to prime fresh eosinophils (as did PAF itself), and this effect was again inhibited by WEB 2086. This indicates that eosinophils synthesize and release PAF during STZ stimulation. Measurements of total PAF and PAF release showed that most of the PAF synthesized by eosinophils was released in the extracellular medium. This study shows that synthesis and release of PAF is important for respiratory burst activity induced in human eosinophils by STZ.