The L-selectin adhesion molecule is involved in guiding leukocytes to sites of inflammation. L-selectin is cleaved by an unusual proteolytic activity at a membrane-proximal site resulting in rapid shedding from the cell surface. Although it has been demonstrated that L-selectin mediates, in part, the early event of leukocyte rolling under hydrodynamic flow, the contribution of shedding to L-selectin function has remained unknown. Here we show that hydroxamic acid-based metalloprotease inhibitors block L-selectin downregulation from the cell surface of stimulated neutrophils, without affecting Mac-1 mobilization or general neutrophil activation, and inhibit cleavage of L-selectin in a cell-free system. Unexpectedly, the hydroxamic acid-based inhibitors reduced neutrophil rolling velocity under hydrodynamic flow, resulting in increased neutrophil accumulation. These results suggest that L-selectin is cleaved in seconds - much faster than previously suspected - during the process of rolling under hydrodynamic flow, and that shedding of L-selectin may contribute significantly to the velocity of leukocyte rolling. L-selectin shedding during rolling interactions may be physiologically important for limiting leukocyte aggregation and accumulation at sites of inflammation.