We examined the role of intracellular and extracellular calcium on the ability of human polymorphonuclear leukocytes to migrate chemotactically and reexpress (or recycle) formyl peptide receptors when challenged with the synthetic chemotactic peptide, N-formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine (FMLP). Extracellular calcium was not required for either optimal chemotactic responses or receptor reexpression. Depletion and chelation of intracellular calcium resulted in significant diminution in the ability of polymorphonuclear leukocytes to release the specific granule constituents lactoferrin and vitamin B12-binding protein during the process of chemotaxis, but had no effect on the capability of these cells to respond chemotactically. Similarly, chelation of intracellular calcium did not affect the ability of these cells to reexpress a population of formyl peptide receptors. Inhibition of receptor reexpression, by a nonagglutinating derivative of wheat-germ agglutinin, was associated with inhibition of chemotactic responses to FMLP. Thus, it appears that large changes in cytosolic free calcium are not necessary for formyl peptide-induced polymorphonuclear leukocyte chemotaxis. In contrast, continuous reexpression (or recycling) of formyl peptide receptors is required for polymorphonuclear leukocyte chemotactic responses to FMLP, a process that appears to be independent from specific granule fusion with plasma membrane.