Accumulation of leucocytes in inflamed lung tissue and alveolar space involves their migration through vascular endothelium and then lung connective tissue. As a model of this process, we investigated human polymorphonuclear leucocyte (PMNL) and monocyte migration through a biological barrier of human lung fibroblasts (HLF) grown on polycarbonate filters. Very few PMNL (1–2%) or monocytes (3–8%) migrated through the HLF barriers spontaneously. Migration increased to 48–53% of added PMNL and 17–24% of added monocytes, when a C5a chemotactic gradient was present. The monocyte migration induced by C5a was not inhibited by monoclonal antibodies (mAb) to CD18 (β2 integrins). This CD18-independent migration was partially inhibited (35%) by mAb to α5 of VLA-5 and completely inhibited by the combination of mAb to α4 of VLA-4 with mAb to VLA-5, in the presence of mAb to CD18. In contrast, PMNL migration across HLF induced by C5a was partially inhibited by mAb to CD18 alone, but even with the addition of mAb to VLA-4,VLA-5 and VLA-6, the greatest degree of inhibition was only 60%. Blocking the function of CD18 was not required to observe the inhibition by mAb to VLA-4, although the inhibitory effect of mAb to VLA-5 and VLA-6 alone or in combination was only observed when CD18 mechanisms were also blocked with anti-CD18 mAb. These results demonstrate that (a) both monocytes and PMNL can use either CD11/CD18 (β2 integrin) or β1 (CD49/CD29) integrins to migrate through HLF barriers; (b) in the case of monocytes, the VLA-4 and VLA-5 β1 integrins account for essentially all the CD11/CD18-independent migration mechanisms; and (c) in contrast to monocytes, PMNL CD18-independent migration is mediated not only by VLA-4 and VLA-5, but also by VLA-6, and up to 40% of the migration appears to be via yet to be defined PMNL surface molecules.