Reports from several laboratories suggest that neutrophils arrested during locomotion preferentially bind immune complexes at the front of the cell. Such asymmetry of binding has been interpreted as indicating an active modulation of phagocytic receptors to the anterior of the cell. To investigate this further, we have used digital analysis of fluorescence images to determine the binding patterns of mAbs directed against the Fc receptors, the receptors for the C3bi fragment of C3, and a neutrophil-specific antigen. We found that all three proteins are distributed nearly identically along the length of migrating neutrophils, and their distribution very closely parallels the anterior to posterior distribution of the plasma membrane. The use of mAbs offered an important advantage in that the binding of antireceptor antibodies, unlike the binding of ligands, should be independent of potential changes in the affinity of the receptors. We conclude that the anterior distribution of the phagocytic receptors in the plasma membrane of locomoting neutrophils parallels the overall increase in membrane area at the front of a migrating cell and that specific translocation of phagocytic receptors does not occur.

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