Recent evidence suggests adhesion molecules play an important role in the function of leukocytes. Because human eosinophils are known to express beta 2 integrins, we hypothesized that these adhesion molecules mediate the effector function of eosinophils. Normal human eosinophils incubated in albumin-coated polystyrene plates released granule protein and produced superoxide anion when stimulated with human recombinant granulocyte-macrophage CSF (rGM-CSF), platelet-activating factor (PAF), or PMA. Simultaneous monitoring of eosinophil adhesion and degranulation showed that degranulation was always preceded by cellular adhesion regardless of stimuli. Furthermore, eosinophil degranulation induced by human rGM-CSF and PAF was abolished in suspension culture of the cells when the cell suspensions were gently stirred. To identify the molecules involved in this adhesion-dependent degranulation, we have investigated the effects of mAbs (mAb) against beta 2 integrins. mAb reactive with CD18 markedly inhibited the eosinophil adhesion and degranulation induced by PAF and human rGM-CSF. mAb reactive with CD11b also moderately inhibited the adhesion and degranulation. In contrast, mAb reactive with CD11a slightly enhanced or showed no effect on the adhesion and degranulation by human rGM-CSF or PAF. Superoxide production induced by human rGM-CSF and PAF was also abolished by the treatment of cells with anti-CD18 mAb. mAb against CD11b and CD18 had little effect on degranulation and superoxide production induced by PMA. These results indicate that CD11b/CD18 (Mac-1)-dependent cellular adhesion plays an important role in the degranulation and superoxide production of eosinophils induced by human rGM-CSF and PAF, and that these mechanisms may be employed in vivo where eosinophils contact with stromal cells and/or proteins.