The protein kinase inhibitor, 1-(5-isoquinolinesulfonyl) piperazine (C-I), inhibits superoxide release from human neutrophils (PMN) stimulated with phorbol myristate acetate or synthetic diacylglycerol, without inhibiting superoxide release from PMN stimulated with the chemoattractants C5a or N-formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine (f-Met-Leu-Phe). In this study, we investigated the effect of C-I on human PMN chemotaxis to C5a, f-Met-Leu-Phe, leukotriene B4 (LTB4), and fluoresceinated N-formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine-lysine (f-Met-Leu-Phe-Lys-FITC). PMN, preincubated for 5 min at 37 degrees C with 0 to 200 microM C-I, were tested for their migratory responses to the chemoattractants. C-I (greater than or equal to 1 microM) significantly inhibited PMN chemotaxis to f-Met-Leu-Phe, f-Met-Leu-Phe-Lys-FITC, and C5a without affecting random migration. Maximal inhibition of chemotaxis to these attractants occurred with greater than or equal to 50 microM C-I, at which chemotaxis was inhibited by 80 to 95%. The C-I inhibition was reversible. In contrast, 200 microM C-I did not inhibit the number of PMN migrating to LTB4, although, the leading front of PMN migration to LTB4 was inhibited by C-I. C-I inhibited PMN orientation to C5a and f-Met-Leu-Phe without affecting orientation to LTB4. C-I did not inhibit the binding of radiolabeled f-Met-Leu-Phe or f-Met-Leu-Phe-Lys-FITC to PMN. These findings suggest that the chemotactic responses of PMN to f-Met-Leu-Phe and C5a involve a protein kinase-dependent reaction which is inhibited by C-I.