Cytokines belonging to the RANTES/SIS family are highly induced in a number of pathophysiological processes such as autoimmune disorders, cancers, atherosclerosis, and chronic inflammation. However, apart from their chemotactic activity on monocytes and particular lymphocyte types, the biological activities in the human system of this recently discovered cytokine family are largely unknown. Here we report that one family member, described as monocyte chemotactic protein 1 (MCP-1), strongly activates mature human basophils in a pertussis toxin- sensitive manner. MCP-1 causes a rise in the cytosolic free calcium level in basophils and monocytes, but not in other blood leukocyte types, and triggers basophil degranulation at low concentrations (ED50 = 3-10 nM). Thus, MCP-1 is a cytokine capable of directly inducing histamine release by basophils. Furthermore, MCP-1 promotes the formation of leukotriene C4 by basophils pretreated with interleukin 3 (IL-3), IL-5, or granulocyte/macrophage colony-stimulating factor. MCP- 1-induced basophil mediator release may play an important role in allergic inflammation and other pathologies expressing MCP-1.