Antifluorescein antibody molecules were used to interrupt the stimulation of neutrophils by a fluoresceinated chemotactic peptide. From the results we construct a semiquantitative relationship among ligand-receptor interaction, the time course of cell triggering and response, and aspects of cellular adaptation. The interaction of the antibody with the free fluoresceinated peptide is complete within a few seconds and the peptide-antibody complex neither stimulates the cells nor inhibits subsequent stimulation by unlabeled peptide. When antibody is added to a cell suspension that has been stimulated with the fluoresceinated peptide, we observe that: (i) the apparent membrane depolarization response monitored by a fluorescent dye can be inhibited only if antibody is added within 30 sec of stimulation; (ii) the superoxide response can be inhibited even if antibody is added more than 1 min after stimulation and decays with an intrinsic half-life of about 12 sec; (iii) responses to a second dose of nonfluoresceinated peptide are enhanced if the antibody is added within 2 min of stimulation by the fluoresceinated peptide. These results suggest that different neutrophil responses depend in individual ways on the time course and extent of ligand binding to its receptor. A comparison of these data with the time course of binding permits an estimate of the number of receptors involved in these responses.