The random migration of neutrophils under agarose as measured by the number of cells leaving the well, is enhanced when the pH or the osmolality of the medium is reduced or when microtubule agents are used. Concentrations of colchicine above 5 x 10-7 M increased the number of cells migrating and decreased the mean number of centriolar microtubules in a dose-dependent fashion from 16 to 4 per 4 micron 2 at 10-5 M. The distance that colchicine-treated neutrophils migrated from the well was not different from the control. Lowering the pH from 7.4 to 6.0 also increased random migration and decreased pericentriolar microtubules from a mean of 16 to a mean of 10. At pH 6.0, both the number of cells that migrated and the distance the cells forming the leading edge travelled from the well were increased. Since peripheral microtubules may play a greater role in cell migration than centiolar ones, we examined the numerical density of microtubules in the peripheral cytoplasm. Lowering the medium pH reduced the mean number of microtubules per 10 micron 2 from 6 to 2. Colchicine reduced micro-tubules in the same area to I. At the low pH, colchicine reduced even further the numbers of both centriole-associated and peripheral microtubules but the migration pattern was the same as that seen at pH 6.0 without colchicine. Lowering medium osmolality from 280 to 230 m-osmol increased random migration but did not affect microtubule numbers. The addition of colchicine to this system decreased microtubule numbers and increased migration even further. Conditions that enhanced neutrophil migration also affected cell shape. Whereas cells at pH 7.4 were generally fan-shaped with a broad, smooth leading edge, cells at pH 6.0 with or without colchicine were long and narrow. Neutrophils at pH 7.4 but 230 m-osmol had a scalloped edge, which often appeared thickened. This too was not altered by colchicine. The morphology of cells treated with colchicine was similar to controls except for the more frequent presence of long retraction fibres. Each of these treatments thus appears to act on a different aspect of the cell's locomotory apparatus. The mechanisms by which colchicine and lowered ph enhance migration may partially overlap since both significantly decrease peripheral microtubules. The data suggest that microtubules play a constraining role within the cell, limiting the ability of the cell to move and change direction.