The binding of the chemotactic peptide N-formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine to its cell surface receptor rapidly elicits the hydrolysis of phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate by phospholipase C to form the putative second messengers inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate and sn-1,2-diacylglycerol. To investigate the possible role of a guanine nucleotide binding protein in transduction of this membrane signal, we examined the effects of pertussis toxin on chemotactic peptide-stimulated inositol phospholipid metabolism in differentiated HL-60 cells labeled with [3H]inositol. Pertussis toxin inhibited the chemotactic tripeptide-stimulated production of inositol mono-, bis-, and trisphosphates and secretion of N-acetyl-beta-D-glucosaminidase in a time- and concentration-dependent manner. Treatment with pertussis toxin did not alter the total incorporation or the distribution of [3H]inositol in inositol phospholipid. Chemotactic peptide receptor number was unchanged, although a slight decrease in binding affinity was observed. These findings suggest a role for a guanine nucleotide binding protein in coupling the chemotactic peptide receptor to phospholipase C.