Surface activity and sensitivity to inhibition from phospholipase A2 (PLA2), lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC), and serum albumin were studied for a synthetic C16:0 diether phosphonolipid (DEPN-8) combined with 1.5% by weight of mixed hydrophobic surfactant proteins (SP)-B/C purified from calf lung surfactant extract (CLSE). Pure DEPN-8 had better adsorption and film respreading than the major lung surfactant phospholipid dipalmitoyl phosphatidylcholine and reached minimum surface tensions <1 mN/m under dynamic compression on the Wilhelmy balance and on a pulsating bubble surfactometer (37 degrees C, 20 cycles/min, 50% area compression). DEPN-8 + 1.5% SP-B/C exhibited even greater adsorption and had overall dynamic surface tension lowering equal to CLSE on the bubble. In addition, films of DEPN-8 + 1.5% SP-B/C on the Wilhelmy balance had better respreading than CLSE after seven (but not two) cycles of compression-expansion at 23 degrees C. DEPN-8 is structurally resistant to degradation by PLA2, and DEPN-8 + 1.5% SP-B/C maintained high adsorption and dynamic surface activity in the presence of this enzyme. Incubation of CLSE with PLA2 led to chemical degradation, generation of LPC, and reduced surface activity. DEPN-8 + 1.5% SP-B/C was also more resistant than CLSE to direct biophysical inhibition by LPC, and the two were similar in their sensitivity to biophysical inhibition by serum albumin. These findings indicate that synthetic surfactants containing DEPN-8 combined with surfactant proteins or related synthetic peptides have potential utility for treating surfactant dysfunction in inflammatory lung injury.