Current knowledge states that periodontal diseases are chronic inflammatory reactions raised in response to periodontopathogens. Many cell types and mediators, including Th1 and Th2 lymphocytes, cytokines and chemokines, appear to be involved in the immunopathogenesis of periodontal diseases. Chemokines, a family of chemotactic cytokines, bind to specific receptors and selectively attract different cell subsets to the inflammatory site. They can also interact with classical cytokines and modulate the local immune response. In order to study the role of chemokines in periodontal diseases, we examined the expression of chemokines, chemokine receptors and cytokines by means of reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) techniques. Characteristic patterns of such factors' expression were found in gingival biopsies from patients presenting with aggressive periodontitis and chronic periodontitis. The expression of the chemokines macrophage inflammatory protein-1 alpha (MIP-1α) and interferon-gamma inducible protein 10 (IP-10) and of their respective receptors, CCR5 and CXCR3, were more prevalent and higher in aggressive periodontitis, and associated with higher interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) expression and lower interleukin-10 (IL-10) expression. In contrast, chronic periodontitis patients exhibited a more frequent and higher expression of monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) and its receptor CCR4, and higher expression of IL-10. It is possible that chemokines, in addition to the classical cytokines, are involved in the immunopathogenesis of periodontal disease, driving the migration and the maintenance of several inflammatory cell types such as polymorphonuclear leukocytes, dendritic cells (DCs), natural killer cells, macrophages, and subsets of lymphocytes in the gingival tissues. These cells are thought to participate in the inflammatory and immune reaction that takes place in periodontal disease, killing pathogens, presenting antigens, and producing cytokines. The selective recruitment of polarized lymphocyte subsets could result in differential cytokine production at the site of response, which is supposed to determine the stable or progressive nature of the lesion. Besides, the role of chemokines as activators and chemoattracts of osteclasts may be involved in the determination of disease severity.