Adhesion molecules are responsible for PMN-endothelial cell interactions involved in both PMN-mediated endothelial injury (e.g., after ischemia-reperfusion injury) and PMN-mediated host defense against bacterial infection. Inhibition of PMN-endothelial adherence with CD18 and P-selectin mAb has been shown to ameliorate the tissue injury resulting from ischemia and reperfusion under a variety of experimental conditions. However, interference with PMN function may result in an increased risk of bacterial infection. Previous investigations suggest that CD18 blockade can lead to increased infectious risk. Little is known of the infectious risks associated with selectin blockade. We report the effects of P-selectin blockade (using mAb PB1.3) on bacteria-induced PMN emigration into the peritoneum and subcutaneous (s.c.) tissue in rabbits. Leukocyte and PMN emigration into the peritoneum 4 h after inoculation with 10 ml of 10(9) CFU/ml Escherichia coli was significant in saline-treated animals, and not different in animals pretreated with mAb PB1.3. Similarly, the incidence and severity of abscess formation 7 days after s.c. inoculation with Staphylococcus aureus (10(7), 10(8), or 10(9) CFU) was not increased in rabbits pretreated with mAb PB1.3 compared to saline. PMN emigration to the s.c. S. aureus was also similar in both saline and mAb PB1.3-treated animals, as determined by light microscopy. We conclude that P-selectin blockade with mAb PB1.3: 1) does not interfere with acute, E. coli-induced PMN emigration into the peritoneum, 2) does not increase the incidence or severity of S. aureus abscess formation in s.c. tissue, and 3) interferes less with PMN antibacterial host defense mechanisms than inhibition of CD18-mediated PMN adherence.