Lipoxins (LX) are bioactive eicosanoids that activate human monocytes and inhibit neutrophils. LXA4 is rapidly converted by monocytes to inactive products, and to resist metabolism, synthetic analogs of LXA4 were designed. Here, we examined the bioactivity of several LXA4 analogs in monocytes and found, for chemotaxis, 15(R/S)-methyl-LXA4 and 15-epi-LXA4 were equal in activity, and 16-phenoxy-LXA4 was more potent than native LXA4. Both 15(R/S)-methyl-LXA4 and 16-phenoxy-LXA4 were approximately 1 log molar more potent than LXA4 in stimulating THP-1 cell adherence (EC50 approximately 1 x 10(-10) M). Dimethylamide derivatives of the LXA4 analogs also possessed agonist rather than antagonist properties for monocytes. Neither LXA4 nor 16-phenoxy-LXA4 affected monocyte-mediated cytotoxicity. We cloned an LXA4 receptor from THP-1 cells identical to that found in PMN. Evidence of receptor-mediated function of LXA4 and the stable analogs in monocytes included desensitization of intracellular calcium mobilization to a second challenge by equimolar concentrations of these analogs, but not to LTB4. Increases in [Ca2+]i by LXA4 and the analogs were specifically inhibited by an antipeptide antibody to the LXA4 receptor; and both LXA4- and analog-induced adherence and increments in Ca2+ were sensitive to pertussis toxin. Together, these results indicate that the LXA4 stable analogs are potent monocyte chemoattractants and are more potent than native LXA4 in stimulating THP-1 cell adherence, at subnanomolar concentrations. Moreover, they provide additional evidence that the LXA4 stable analogs retain selective bioactivity in monocytes and are valuable instruments for examining the functions and modes of action of LXA4.