OBJECTIVES This study attempted to determine whether neutrophil sequestration in reperfused myocardium can be inhibited and infarct size reduced by treatment with a chimeric, monoclonal IgG4 antibody (CLB54) directed against CD18 in a primate model of acute myocardial ischemia and reperfusion. BACKGROUND Reperfusion injury, in part mediated by neutrophils, may limit the potential benefit of reestablishing infarct-related artery patency in patients with acute myocardial infarction. METHODS Nineteen closed-chest baboons (10 control, 9 treated with CLB54) had the left anterior descending coronary artery occluded for 90 min, followed by 4 h of reflow. CLB54 (mean [+/- SD] 11 +/- 2 mg/kg body weight) or saline solution was administered intravenously 20 min before reflow. Coronary flow was determined using radiolabeled microspheres, infarct size by triphenyltetrazolium chloride staining, global and regional ventricular function by contrast ventriculography and neutrophil accumulation by a myeloperoxidase assay. RESULTS Risk region size was the same in both groups. CLB54 treatment reduced infarct size expressed as a percent of the risk region from 41 +/- 20% in the saline-treated group to 19 +/- 17% in the CLB54-treated group (p < 0.02). This was associated with diminished myeloperoxidase activity and greater postreperfusion coronary flow in the risk region in CLB54-treated than in control baboons. Ejection fraction declined to the same extent in both groups, whereas anterior wall regional cord shortening was better preserved in CLB54-treated baboons. CONCLUSIONS Inhibition of neutrophil sequestration with CLB54 administered before reperfusion reduces infarct size, preserves ischemic zone microvascular perfusion and minimizes the decline of regional wall motion.