Neutral endopeptidase 24.11 (NEP/CALLA/CD10), an enzyme expressed on early lymphoid progenitors, neutrophils, and various other cell types, inactivates many biologically active peptides, including the bacterial chemotactic peptide N-formylmethionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine (fMLP). Inhibition of CD10/NEP on the surface of human neutrophils (PMNs) in vitro inhibits migration toward this chemotaxin, suggesting that enzymatic inactivation by NEP regulates the neutrophil response to fMLP. Because PMNs in inflammatory sites are exposed to various cytokines, we evaluated the effects of selected cytokines on CD10/NEP activity in vitro. Of five cytokines tested--interleukin-1 (IL-1), IL-6, and IL-8, granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF)--GM-CSF provided the most consistent increase in surface NEP activity. Low concentrations (10(-9)-10(-7) M) of GM-CSF increased NEP activity in a time- and concentration-dependent manner to more than 225% that of control (phosphate-buffered saline-treated) cells. Cytofluorometry of cells stained with a fluorescent antibody to CD10 indicated that GM-CSF increased expression of surface CD10/NEP antigen in a similar manner. The effect of GM-CSF on NEP activity was enhanced still further by simultaneous exposure to IL-1, suggesting that combinations of cytokines may direct and regulate the neutrophil response within an inflammatory site. Rapid upregulation of CD10/NEP underscores the importance of this enzyme for control of peptide mediators of inflammation.