The selectins and the beta 2-integrins (CD11/CD18) mediate distinct adhesive interactions between neutrophils and endothelial cells. Selectins are believed to initiate binding by mediating neutrophil rolling, whereas beta 2-integrins are required for subsequent activation-induced firm sticking and emigration. In vitro evidence suggests that two endothelial cell selectins, P- and E-selectin, can mediate rolling by binding to the carbohydrate ligand sialyl-Lewisx (sLex) on neutrophil surface glycoconjugates. To test the relative contribution of selectins and beta 2-integrins in vivo we used intravital microscopy to study the behavior of neutrophils from two patients with distinct inherited leukocyte adhesion deficiency syndromes. Neutrophils from a patient suffering from CD18 deficiency showed normal rolling behavior but were incapable of sticking or emigrating upon chemotactic stimulation. Neutrophils from a second patient with a newly described adhesion deficiency had normal CD18 but did not express sLex. These neutrophils rolled poorly and also failed to stick in venules under shear force. Under static conditions, however, chemoattractant-induced sticking and emigration could be observed. This demonstrates that both selectin-carbohydrate-mediated initiation of adhesion and subsequent activation-induced beta 2-integrin engagement are essential for the normal function of human neutrophils in vivo.