Inflammatory reactions are associated with sequestration of leukocytes in the lung. Complement activation leads to accumulation of leukocytes in alveolar septa and alveoli, to lung edema and hemorrhage. Although in organs other than the lung leukocytes interact with the vascular endothelium only in postcapillary venules, alveolar capillaries are considered to be the site of leukocyte sequestration in the lung. However, pulmonary venules and arterioles have not been investigated systematically after complement activation so far. A closed thoracic window was implanted in anesthetized rabbits; leukocytes and red blood cells were stained, and the movement of these cells was measured in superficial pulmonary arterioles, venules and alveolar capillaries using fluorescence video microscopy before and 30 and 60 min after infusion of cobra venom factor (CVF). Erythrocyte velocity and macrohemodynamic conditions did not change after CVF infusion and were not different from the sham-treated controls. The number of sticking leukocytes increased significantly compared to baseline and control: by 150% in arterioles and in venules and by 740% in alveolar capillaries within 60 min after CVF infusion. The width of alveolar septa in vivo was significantly enlarged after CVF infusion, indicating interstitial pulmonary edema. At the end of the experiments, myeloperoxidase activity was higher in the CVF group, showing leukocyte sequestration in the whole organ. It is concluded that complement activation by CVF induces leukocyte sequestration in lung arterioles, venules and alveolar capillaries and leads to mild lung injury.