L-selectin, a cell surface adhesion molecule that is expressed by most leukocytes, mediates leukocyte rolling along vascular endothelium at sites of inflammation. The contribution of L-selectin to leukocyte migration in models of chronic inflammation was assessed by using mice that lack cell surface L-selectin expression. Significant inhibition of neutrophil (56-62%), lymphocyte (70-75%), and monocyte (72-78%) migration into an inflamed peritoneum was observed 24 and 48 h after administration of thioglycollate, an inflammatory stimulus. L-selectin-deficient mice were also significantly impaired in delayed-type hypersensitivity reactions. Footpad swelling in response to sheep red blood cell challenge was reduced 75% in L-selectin-deficient mice compared with wild-type mice. Ear swelling in a model of contact hypersensitivity induced by oxazolone challenge was also reduced by 69% compared to wild-type mice. Consistent with L-selectin-mediating leukocyte migration into diverse vascular beds during inflammation, L-selectin-deficient mice were significantly resistant to death resulting from lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced toxic shock. LPS administration resulted in a 90% mortality rate in control mice after 24 h, while there was a 90% survival rate in L-selectin-deficient mice. These results demonstrate that L-selectin plays a prominent role in leukocyte homing to nonlymphoid tissues during inflammation and that blocking this process can be beneficial during pathological inflammatory responses.