This study was designed to clarify the contributions of specific neutrophil chemotactic factors (NCF) in neutrophil accumulation in the human respiratory tract associated with various diseases. The activity and characteristics of the NCF in the branchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid and culture media of alveolar macrophages obtained from normal volunteers, control patients, patients with chronic airway diseases (CAD) and patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) were examined. The BAL fluid from normal volunteers contained NCF comparable with the chemotactic factors interleukin-8 (IL-8) and leukotriene B4 (LTB4). Analysis of the biochemical characteristics of NCF released from alveolar macrophages suggests that they are derived from alveolar macrophages. The NCF activities in BAL fluids from patients with CAD and IPF were higher than those in BAL fluids from normal volunteers and control patients. Biochemical analysis demonstrated that several kinds of NCF, including those derived from the complement component C5 and alveolar macrophages, were present in the BAL fluid from patients with CAD and respiratory infections. The especially marked increase of C5-derived NCF indicate their importance in neutrophil accumulation in the respiratory tract of patients with CAD. Alveolar macrophages released different types of NCF after different lengths of culture periods (4 h and 24 h). Alveolar macrophages from patients with IPF released larger amounts of NCF than alveolar macrophages from normal volunteers, indicating the importance of alveolar-macrophage-derived NCF as well as C5-derived NCF in neutrophil accumulation in the respiratory tract of patients with IPF. These results suggest that various types of NCF increase in response to different disease states of the respiratory tract and serve to regulate the accumulation of neutrophils.