The Long-Evans Cinnamon rat is a mutant strain that contracts hereditary hepatitis and, eventually, spontaneous hepatocellular carcinoma. Because we found a corresponding gross copper accumulation in the liver of the rats, we examined whether the development of hepatitis in our rat system could be prevented by administration of D-penicillamine. D-Penicillamine is a copper-chelating agent and one of the drugs effective for human Wilson's disease, in which abnormal copper metabolism is also observed. The results show that D-penicillamine treatment inhibited the elevation of serum transaminases, suppressed abnormal histological changes in the liver and completely prevented the onset of hepatitis in the Long-Evans Cinnamon rats. We further found that the copper concentration in the liver and serum copper and ceruloplasmin levels were decreased, whereas the urinary copper level was increased in the D-penicillamine—treated Long-Evans Cinnamon rats. These findings demonstrate that the pathogenesis of hereditary hepatitis in Long-Evans Cinnamon rats is due to abnormal copper accumulation in the liver. (HEPATOLOGY 1992;15:82–87).