Leukotrienes (LTs) are lipid mediators implicated in asthma and other inflammatory diseases. LTB(4) and LTD(4) also participate in antimicrobial defense by stimulating phagocyte functions via ligation of B leukotriene type 1 (BLT1) receptor and cysteinyl LT type 1 (cysLT1) receptor, respectively. Although both Galpha(i) and Galpha(q) proteins have been shown to be coupled to both BLT1 and cysLT1 receptors in transfected cell systems, there is little known about specific G protein subunit coupling to LT receptors, or to other G protein-coupled receptors, in primary cells. In this study we sought to define the role of specific G proteins in pulmonary alveolar macrophage (AM) innate immune responses to LTB(4) and LTD(4). LTB(4) but not LTD(4) reduced cAMP levels in rat AM by a pertussis toxin (PTX)-sensitive mechanism. Enhancement of FcgammaR-mediated phagocytosis and bacterial killing by LTB(4) was also PTX-sensitive, whereas that induced by LTD(4) was not. LTD(4) and LTB(4) induced Ca(2+) and intracellular inositol monophosphate accumulation, respectively, highlighting the role of Galpha(q) protein in mediating PTX-insensitive LTD(4) enhancement of phagocytosis and microbicidal activity. Studies with liposome-delivered G protein blocking Abs indicated a dependency on specific Galpha(q/11) and Galpha(i3) subunits, but not Galpha(i2) or G(beta)gamma, in LTB(4)-enhanced phagocytosis. The selective importance of Galpha(q/11) protein was also demonstrated in LTD(4)-enhanced phagocytosis. The present investigation identifies differences in specific G protein subunit coupling to LT receptors in antimicrobial responses and highlights the importance of defining the specific G proteins coupled to heptahelical receptors in primary cells, rather than simply using heterologous expression systems.