Mallory bodies (MBs) are characteristic morphological features of alcoholic hepatitis and are also found in other chronic liver disorders and hepatocellular neoplasms. MBs can be produced in mouse liver by chronic administration of the porphyrinogenic drugs griseofulvin (GF) and 3,5-diethoxy-carbonyl-1,4-dihydrocollidine (DDC). The mechanisms causing the formation of MBs are poorly understood, and the significance of MB formation during the course of liver disease remains unclear. We investigated the relationship between the mechanisms underlying the formation of MBs and the regulation of multidrug resistance (mdr) genes and their products, the P-glycoproteins (Pgp). Immunofluorescence microscopy using the monoclonal antibody C219 revealed an increase of Pgp expression in almost all hepatocytes after 3 to 8 days of feeding mice DDC- and GF-containing diets. However, after approximately 4 weeks of DDC and approximately 8 weeks of GF feeding, when the first small MBs appeared and loosening and diminution of keratin intermediate filament (KIF) cytoskeleton occurred in some hepatocytes, a decrease or loss of Pgp staining in affected hepatocytes was observed. After feeding mice DDC for 6 weeks and GF for 12 weeks, many hepatocytes contained MBs and displayed a disruption of the immunohistochemically demonstrable KIF meshwork. Double immunofluorescence microscopy with the keratin polyclonal antibody and the mab C219 at this time point revealed a complete loss of Pgp staining in affected cells, although remaining hepatocytes with unaltered KIF meshwork showed a strong reaction with the C219 antibody. Northern blot analyses revealed a significant increase of mdr2 mRNA and, to a lesser extent, of mdr1a mRNA in the livers of DDC- and GF-fed animals.