Synthetic peptides corresponding to the region of highest similarity between human lipocortin I and rabbit uteroglobin inhibit phospholipase A2 and show potent antiinflammatory activity on the carrageenan-induced rat footpad edema. The peptide HDMNKVLDL (antiflammin-2) inhibits the synthesis of platelet-activating factor (PAF) induced by TNF or phagocytosis in rat macrophages and human neutrophils, and by thrombin in vascular endothelial cells. The peptide MQMKKVLDS (antiflammin-1) is less inhibitory than antiflammin-2 for macrophages and not inhibitory for neutrophils after a 5-min preincubation. This finding suggests that antiflammin-1 is inactivated by neutrophils secretory products, possibly oxidizing agents. Synthesis of PAF is inhibited by antiflammin-2 without an appreciable lag, but this inhibition is reversed when neutrophils or macrophages are washed and incubated in fresh medium. Therefore, antiflammins must be continuously present to inhibit PAF synthesis. Antiflammins block activation of the acetyltransferase required for PAF synthesis, suggesting that this enzyme is another target for the inhibitory activity of antiflammins. These peptides inhibit neutrophil aggregation and chemotaxis induced by complement component C5a. Antiflammin-2 suppresses the increase in vascular permeability and the leukocyte infiltration induced in rats by an Arthus reaction or by intradermal injection of rTNF and C5a.