Interleukin-8 (IL-8), a CXC-type chemokine, plays a key role in acute inflammation by recruiting neutrophils in mammals. In the present study, the open reading frame (ORF) of IL-8, encoding 99 amino acids was cloned in mandarin fish, and its function in inflammation was investigated. The IL-8 contains four conserved cysteine residues, with the first two forming the CXC signature motif. The genomic sequence of mandarin fish IL-8 has four exons and three introns, a typical gene organization of the CXC chemokine. Bioactive recombinant IL-8 (rIL-8) exhibited a chemotactic effect on head kidney leukocytes in vitro, and activates the transcription of the inflammatory genes, IL-8 and IL-1β. When mandarin fish was challenged intraperitoneally with the pathogenic bacterium Flavobacterium columnare G4, the steady-state protein level of IL-8 was up-regulated in trunk kidney and head kidney. These results suggest that IL-8 is a functional CXC chemokine in mandarin fish, and plays a key role in the inflammatory responses towards bacterial infection.