Neutrophil migration from skin window abrasions was studied in 10 patients with no history of periodontitis, 10 with localised juvenile or post-juvenile periodontitis, and 10 with chronic adult periodontitis. Filters contained either saline or chlorhexidine (0.002% or 0.02%). The leading front was measured in filters placed for 30 min after cell migration had been established for 2 h. Subjects in the juvenile/post juvenile group showed a reduced range of migration distances, but were still within the normal range when compared with the other 2 groups. Chlorhexidine at 0.002% tended to increase leading front distances, and 0.02% to decrease them. We conclude that: 1) migrating neutrophils in vivo may move less far in patients with a history of juvenile periodontitis; 2) chlorhexidine may inhibit cell migration, possibly decreasing the host response in vivo if applied at current therapeutic concentrations.