We have used the quantitative binding of murine monoclonal antibodies to the surface of cultured human umbilical vein endothelial (HUVE) cells to study the responses of HUVE cells to three different immune mediators: interleukin 1 (IL 1), tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and immune interferon (IFN-gamma). Antibody H4/18, reactive with an endothelial cell-specific activation antigen, does not bind to unstimulated HUVE cells but shows rapidly and transiently inducible binding (peak 4 to 6 hr) to cells stimulated by IL 1 or TNF that declines to basal levels by 24 hr, even in the continued presence of mediator. Binding of H4/18 is unaffected by IFN-gamma. Antibody RR1/1, reactive with intercellular adhesion molecule 1, binds to unstimulated HUVE cells, but binding is rapidly increased (plateau 24 hr) after stimulation by IL 1 or TNF and slowly increased (over several days) by IFN-gamma. In contrast to H4/18 binding, the increase in RR1/1 binding is sustained in the continued presence of mediator. Antibody W6/32, reactive with HLA-A,B antigens, binds to unstimulated HUVE cells and shows gradually progressive increases (over several days) in binding upon treatment with IFN-gamma or TNF. These observations demonstrate that HUVE cells show distinct but overlapping patterns of antigenic modulation in response to three different lymphokines, and suggest that the "activation" of endothelial cells observed in situ may represent a complex integration of several lymphokine-mediated signals.