Chemokines mediate the migration of leukocytes to sites of inflammation. Changes in the plasma concentration of interleukin (IL)-8 and macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP)-1β have not been investigated in the very early phase starting immediately after unintentional trauma. Enrolled in the study were 94 patients with multiple blunt injuries. Blood samples were collected at the scene of accident, then at regular intervals for 24 h. IL-8 and MIP-1β plasma levels were determined by commercial test kits. Patients were grouped according to trauma severity, pattern of injury, as well as survivors vs. nonsurvivors. Serious casualties [Injury Severity Score (ISS) ≧ 32] revealed a significant increase in IL-8 compared to only a slight elevation in individuals with an ISS < 32. Nonsurvivors showed a highly significant (P < 0.005) increase in IL-8 levels beginning immediately after admission. Trauma resulted in a modest activation of MIP-1β production without differences regarding trauma severity, pattern of injury, or survival. A very strong trauma stimulus is necessary to activate IL-8 production. In contrast to MIP-1β, IL-8 levels were significantly elevated in nonsurvivors compared to survivors. Therefore, IL-8 might be an early predictor of survival.