Mobilization of a distinct subset of specific granules provides a physiologically important mechanism to recruit Mac-1 (CD11b/CD18) from an intracellular pool to the external surface of the neutrophil plasma membrane, where the functionally active heterodimer mediates several adherence-dependent processes that are crucial for adequate host defense and cellular inflammatory responses. We observed similar characteristics for translocation of Mac-1 and neutrophil formyl peptide receptors (FPR) and hypothesize that the readily accessible pools of both Mac-1 and FPR are colocalized within this specific granule subset. Plasma membrane levels of both FPR (assessed with 3H- FMLP) and Mac-1 (assessed by fluorescence-activated cell sorter analysis of fluorescein isothiocyanate [FITC]-Mo-1-labeled cells) were markedly downregulated in cells prepared at low temperature from blood cooled to 4 degrees C immediately after removal from the circulation. Levels of both FPR and Mac-1 remained low on cells held at 4 degrees C. Upon warming, spontaneous upregulation of Mac-1 and FPR occurred with similar kinetics and temperature dependency. Translocation of both Mac- 1 and FPR was markedly potentiated by exposure of cells to either fluoride ion (which has been shown by others to specifically elicit exocytosis of gelatinase-rich and vitamin B-12 binding protein-poor granules) or granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), a cytokine that markedly potentiates the neutrophils' host defense capabilities. Levels of both FPR and Mac-1 on F-- or GM-CSF-treated neutrophils exceeded those present on cells incubated at 37 degrees C for extended time intervals, indicating that stimulated translocation may involve mobilization of an additional granule subset. Scatchard analysis showed that only low-affinity FPR were translocated during spontaneous and stimulus-dependent upregulation. To directly compare FPR levels on the surface of cells displaying varying levels of Mac-1 within a single cell suspension, cells were labeled with FITC-Mo-1 and sorted into subpopulations based on fluorescence intensity. After sorting, the individual populations were held at 4 degrees C to prevent further spontaneous upregulation, concentrated by centrifugation, and assayed for FPR levels. Under a variety of conditions, FPR levels correlated with Mac-1 (CD11b) expression on cell populations selected on the basis of CD11b fluorescence intensity. Analysis of subcellular fractions obtained from disrupted neutrophils before and after upregulation provided additional support for the hypothesis that Mac-1 and FPR are colocalized within a readily accessible subset of neutrophil granules.