These studies report findings that demonstrate that human alpha lymphotoxin (LT) induces local, visible, and microscopic inflammatory reactions in normal skin. Skin sites in rabbits, when inoculated with a single injection of native or recombinant human alpha lymphotoxin, demonstrated erythema, swelling, and warmth within 5 hr. Erythema peaked between 24 and 48 hr had resolved by 72 hr. Histologic studies of skin sites injected with native LT revealed polymorphonuclear neutrophil (PMN) infiltration and edema beginning as early as 3 hr posttreatment. Individual skin sites that received three daily injections of native LT exhibited persistent erythema and swelling. Palpable induration was evident 24 hr after the second injection in the series. Histologic examination revealed the presence of many PMNs with associated focal dermal destruction, in the form of microabscesses, and scattered mononuclear cells. In contrast, control materials and recombinant human tumor necrosis factor (TNF-alpha) did not induce visible skin reactions in the rabbit. Several additional controls excluded endotoxin as being the agent responsible for the inflammatory skin reactions observed. The ability of LT to induce inflammation may have a role in its antitumor activity and it may be an important endogenous mediator in other immunologic reactions.