Eicosanoids are important mediators of the inflammatory response to monosodium urate crystals (MSUC) that results in gout. Phospholipase enzymes cleave fatty acids from membrane phospholipids, and this is thought to be the rate-limiting step in eicosanoid production. To understand better the mechanism of eicosanoid production in this disease, we stimulated human peripheral blood neutrophils and monocytes with MSUC and measured phospholipase enzyme activities. MSUC stimulated both intracellular and secretory phospholipase A2 enzyme activities in a time and concentration-dependent manner. Specificity was observed, as phospholipase C activities were not affected. Pretreatment with colchicine, but not aspirin, indomethacin, allopurinol, or islet activating protein, abrogated the enhanced phospholipase A2 activities. We have recently isolated and characterized a phospholipase A2 activating protein termed PLAP from synovial fluid from patients with rheumatoid arthritis, and from murine and bovine cell lines. PLAP was detected in gouty synovial fluid by immunodot blotting and ELISA assays and expressed the same characteristics as PLAP identified from other sources. To examine the role of PLAP in MSUC-induced phospholipase A2 stimulation, we treated cells with MSUC and observed an increase in immunoreactive PLAP. This response also could be blunted by colchicine, but not other drugs. Both phospholipase A2 and PLAP induced production by human monocytes of PGE2 and leukotriene B4 by neutrophils. These findings suggest that phospholipase A2 activation in response to MSUC requires an intact microtubule structure, and that phospholipase A2 and PLAP may be important modulators of at least a portion of the gouty inflammatory response.