CC chemokine receptors are important modulators of inflammation. Although CC chemokine receptors have been found predominantly on leukocytes, recent studies have suggested that vascular smooth muscle cells respond to CC chemokines. We now report that human smooth muscle cells express CCR5, a co- receptor for human immunodeficiency virus. CCR5 mRNA was detectable by RNA blot hybridization in human aortic and coronary artery smooth muscle cells. The cDNA generated by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction from aortic smooth muscle cells had 100% identity throughout the entire coding region with the CCR5 cloned from THP-1 cells. By immunohistochemistry, CCR5 and the CCR5 ligand, macrophage inflammatory protein-1β (MIP-1β), were detected in smooth muscle cells and macrophages of the atherosclerotic plaque. In smooth muscle cell culture, MIP-1β induced a significant increase in intracellular calcium concentrations, which was blocked by an antibody to CCR5. In addition, MIP-1β caused a calcium-dependent increase in tissue factor activity. Tissue factor is the initiator of coagulation and is thought to play a key role in arterial thrombosis. These data suggest that human arterial smooth muscle cells express functional CCR5 receptors and MIP-1β is an agonist for these cells.