Glucan-induced pulmonary granulomatous vasculitis in the rat mimics several human lung diseases (e.g., Wegener's granulomatosis, intravenous taicosis). We sought to clarify the role of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) in the pathogenesis at glucan-induced granulomatous vasculitis. Immunohistochemical analysis of lung sections from rats with florid vasculitis (48 hours) revealed marked alveolar septal and lesional expression of ICAM-1. An ex vivo binding analysis with isotope-labeled antibodies and lung sections taken at various times up to 48 hours after glucan infusion revealed a progressive increase in whole-lung ICAM-1 expression. In vivo measurements of vascular wall-associated ICAM-1 expression revealed an earlier rise that began less than 6 hours after glucan infusion, peaked at 24 to 48 hours, and then declined to near baseline during the ensuing 24 to 96 hours. To assess whether ICAM-1 expression both within blood vessel walls and within lesions per so is important in granuloma development, we carried out in viva neutralization experiments wit several different routes of administration of antibody to ICAM-1. Monoclonal antibody to rat ICAM-1 was either infused intravenously at time 0 (when glucan was infused), infused intravenously at time 0 and after 24 hours, instilled only intratracheally 24 hours after glucan infusion, or given both intravenously (time = 0 and 24 hours) and intratracheally (time = 24 hours). Infusions of monoclonal antibody to rat ICAM-1 resulted in dose-dependent reductions in mean granuloma number and cross-sectional area. Intrapulmonary instillation of antibody to rat ICAM-1 (via tracheostomy 24 hours alter glucan infusion) resulted in a modest reduction in mean granuloma number and cross-sectional area. When antibody to ICAM-1 was both infused and instilled via the trachea, we found an additive reduction in mean granuloma size and number. There was a 12-fold increase in adhesion of ED-1-positive peripheral blood mononuclear cells (monocytes) to granuloma-bearing frozen lung sections prepared 48 hours after glucan infusion. Moreover, 73% of the additional adherent monocytes were bound specifically to granulomas per se. The increase in ex vivo monocyte binding to lung sections prepared at 48 hours was reduced 62% when sections were incubated with monoclonal antibody to ICAM-1. Taken together, these data indicate that ICAM-1 expression in evolving glucan-induced granulomatous vasculitis occurs first within blood vessel walls and then within lesional cells per se. The in viva blocking studies suggest that ICAM-1 expression in both anatomic sties is important in granuloma development.