Increased production of oxygen free radicals and infiltration of neutrophils into tissue subjected to ischemia-reperfusion have emphasized that neutrophils play a direct role in the development of injury. The present study was designed to elucidate the effect of FK506, a new immunosuppressive drug, on 11 hours of complete ischemia and reperfusion of the inguinal island skin flaps in rats. Group 1 (n = 10) control animals underwent ischemia and reperfusion and no treatment. Group 2 (n = 10) animals received FR 506 0.3 mg/kg/day, and group 3 (n = 9) animals received 0.5 mg/kg/day intramuscularly for 3 days before thr ischemia. The effect of the drug was evaluated by measuring flap survival and tissue malondialdehyde content and myeloperoxidase activity and also by histopathologic examination of the skin specimens taken at the 1st and 24th hour after reperfusion, The survival of flaps controlled for 7 days was found to be significantly improved in group 2 (65.0 +/- 10.93 percent) and group 9 (93 +/- 6.25 percent) when compared with the control group (14 +/- 10.12 percent) (p < 0.04 and p < 0.0001). The tissue contents of malondialdehyde and activities of myeloperoxidase were significantly lower in groups 2 and 3 than in the control group. Three days of pretreatment with FK506 significantly reduced neutrophil infiltration in groups treated with either of the doses. These results showed that neutrophils play an important role in island flap survival associated with ischemia-reperfusion injury. Increased neutrophil infiltration was found related with increased levels of malondialdehyde and myeloperoxidase. Flap necrosis and the increase in malondialdehyde, myeloperoxidase, and neutrophil infiltration were improved by FK506 pretreatment, a neutrophil modulating agent.