Histamine diphosphate was shown to selectively attract human eosinophils from mixed granulocyte populations when over 20% eosinophils were used in a modified Boyden chamber chemotactic assay system. This effect of histamine is abolished by incubation with diamine oxidase (histaminase) and was generated by decarboxylation of L-histidine. A linear dose dependent increase in eosinophil migration was observed between 3 X 10(-7) M and 1.25 X 10(-6) M, while higher concentrations of histamine inhibited the migration of eosinophils. The attractant activity of histamine was not inhibited by H-1 or H-2 receptor antagonists, however, the inhibition of migration observed at higher histamine concentrations was reversed by metiamine, an H-2 receptor antagonist. The effects of histamine upon eosinophil migration were demonstrable using three different assays: (a) counting cells that had traversed 5-mum pore, 12-mum thick polycarbonate filters, (b) counting cells that had migrated various distances into a 3-mum pore, 145-mum cellulose nitrate filters, or (c) measuring the number of cells that had traversed an upper polycarbonate filter and migrated into a lower cellulose nitrate filter using 15Cr-labeled cells. The ability of histamine to enhance eosinophil migration was shown to be dependent upon the presence of a concentration gradient; histamine did not cause a dose-dependent increase in random motility. Furthermore, preincubation of the eosinophils with histamine deactivate the cells to further stimulation by histamine or by C5a. It is concluded that in low doses histamine is a chemoattractant for human eosinophils, while in higher doses histamine inhibits eosinophil migration. These observations may relate to the influx and localization of eosinophils in immediate hypersensitivity reactions.