Expression of members of the heat shock protein 60 (hsp60) family in tissues has been reported to coincide with leukocyte infiltration, but it is not known whether these proteins are directly involved in the extravasation of leukocytes. Extravasation of leukocytes requires their adhesion to endothelial cells (EC) via an interaction between adhesion molecules expressed on both cell types. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of recombinant mycobacterial hsp65 on the adhesive characteristics of EC for monocytes and granulocytes. Incubation of EC with hsp65 induces a concentration- and time-dependent increase in adhesiveness of these EC for monocytes and granulocytes. The effect was maximal after incubation of EC with hsp65 for 4 to 6 h. In addition, incubation of EC with hsp65 induced the expression of endothelial CD62E (E-selectin), CD106 (vascular cell adhesion molecule-1) and CD54 (intercellular adhesion molecule-1). The increased adhesion of granulocytes to hsp65-stimulated EC was inhibited completely by blocking Ab against CD62E. mAb against endothelial CD62E, CD106, or CD54 or against the monocyte adhesion molecules CD14 or CD49d (very late Ag-4) did not inhibit the increased adhesion of monocytes to hsp65-stimulated EC; however, mAb against the monocyte adhesion molecule CD18 (beta2-integrin) inhibited monocyte adhesion to hsp65-stimulated EC to the same extent as monocyte adhesion to nonstimulated EC. Hsp65 did not exert its effect in an autocrine or paracrine fashion via the endogenous production of IL-1, TNF-alpha, or other factors or via contaminating LPS. Together these results indicate that hsp65 can play an important role in the adhesion of monocytes and granulocytes to EC at sites of inflammation via modulation of the adhesive characteristics of EC and thus may facilitate extravasation of these phagocytes.