Introduction: Neutrophils are the main opponents of Candida albicans in chronic hyperplastic candidosis. They migrate from the circulation to the epithelium where they form microabscesses. We therefore hypothesized that the neutrophil chemokine interleukin-8 (IL-8) might play a role in the neutrophil-Candida interaction. Methods: Biopsies from patients with chronic hyperplastic candidosis (n = 10) were stained using the avidin-biotin-peroxidase complex protocol for IL-8 and IL-8 receptor A and were compared to healthy control mucosa (n = 3). A set of C. albicans agar sections was similarly analysed. Results: In chronic hyperplastic candidosis lesions IL-8 was strongly expressed in both vascular endothelium and mucosal epithelium. Many resident and immigrant inflammatory cells, including intraepithelial neutrophils, were IL-8 receptor A positive. In addition, IL-8 (or an analogue) was found in the candidal mother cell in chronic hyperplastic candidosis and in agar, whereas the tips of the hyphae expressed IL-8 receptor A (or an analogue). Conclusion: IL-8 may play a role in the recruitment of neutrophils from the vascular compartment to the epithelial microabscesses. C. albicans may have developed an ability to sense IL-8. The IL-8 ligand-receptor interaction may help to direct the growth of the IL-8-receptor-containing tips of the hyphae away from the IL-8-producing candidal cell body (a centrifugal growth pattern to facilitate host tissue penetration). Later, this ability might help to keep the vulnerable hyphal tips away from areas with high concentrations of host IL-8 and candidacidal neutrophils. We suggest that this phenomenon, in contrast to chemotropism, is named chemophobia. © Blackwell Munksgaard, 2006.