Abstract It has been reported that allograft rejection is mediated by a variety of adhesion molecules. Using a corneal allograft model in mice, we studied the role of very late antigen (VLA)-4 and leukocyte function-associated antigen (LFA)-1 adhesion molecules in corneal allograft rejection and the effects of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) to them in suppressing corneal rejection. C3H/He donor corneas were transplanted into BALB/c corneal beds. The allografted mice were treated with a control mAb (M18/2), mAbs to VLA-4, or LFA-1 or their combination by i.p. injection until day 7. The expression of VLA-4, LFA-1, major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II antigens, interleukin (IL)-2, IL-2 receptor and interferon gamma (IFNγ) in the grafted cornea were studied immunohistochemically. Cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) responses to donor alloantigens were assessed. The skins from a syngeneic donor or a third-part strain were transplanted 8 weeks after the initial keratoplasty onto the mice treated with anti-LFA-1 plus anti-VLA-4 mAbs. Fourteen of 16 allografts in non-treated mice and control mAb-treated mice became opaque by 2 weeks after transplantation. At 2 weeks, non-treated allografts showed expression of MHC class II antigens on keratocytes and mononuclear cells at the host-graft junction. Also, mononuclear cells expressing VLA-4, LFA-1, IL-2, IL-2 receptor and IFNγwere present in the stroma at the host-graft junction. The allografts treated with either anti-VLA-4 or anti-LFA-1 alone, or anti-VLA-4 plus anti-LFA-1 remained transparent for more than 2 weeks, and the survival rates at 14 weeks was 0%, 16.7%, and 75.0%, respectively. The combined use of anti-VLA-4 and anti-LFA-1 mAbs prolonged graft survival significantly ( P<0.05) at 14 weeks as compared with anti-LFA-1 mAb alone. At 3 weeks, CTL responses to donor alloantigens were depressed in mice treated with either anti-LFA-1 alone or anti-LFA-1 plus anti-VLA-4. Specific prolongation of donor-syngeneic skin was observed after treatment with the combination of these two mAbs. These results indicate that VLA-4 and LFA-1 have important roles in rejection process of corneal allografts, and that the combined use of mAbs to these molecules has remarkable effects on inducing alloantigen-specific immunosuppression in corneal transplantation.