By the use of chambers containing two compartments with an interposed micropore filter, chemotaxis of polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN's) in vitro was studied employing various agents that fixed serum complement (C'). Antigen-antibody complexes, zymosan, and aggregated human gamma globulin, in the presence of fresh rabbit, guinea pig, or mouse serum resulted in the migration of PMN's through the micropore filter. Pepsin-degraded rabbit antibody or unaltered duck serum containing antibody did not exhibit such activity after addition of antigen. Heating of the serum before treatment or the presence of EDTA prevented the generation of the chemotactic factor. The chemotactic factor could not be generated in whole serum from rabbits genetically deficient in C'. However, the defect in this rabbit serum could be corrected by addition of rabbit or human C'6. Serum of B10·D2 mice deficient in hemolytic C' also yielded poor chemotactic activity.
Interaction of the first four reacting components of guinea pig C' did not result in significant chemotactic activity unless guinea pig euglobulin with heat labile components was also present. In rabbit serum, C'5 and C'6, when "activated" by interaction with the first four reacting components, behaved like a protein-protein complex and exhibited marked chemotactic activity. By employing conditions favoring dissociation of the complex, the individual components were isolated and shown to be chemotactically inactive. Upon recombination of the two components, however, activity reappeared. Using another approach, the C'5–C'6 complex was isolated intact, and shown to be chemotactically active while other fractions not containing these components were not active. It is postulated that the C'5–C'6 complex is the active chemotactic factor generated in serum after the addition of C'-fixing agents.