Elevated concentrations of plasma proinflammatory cytokines have been detected in patients with alcoholic hepatitis (AH) and in a model of lipopolysaccharide-induced hepatitis in ethanol-fed Wistar rats. These cytokines have been implicated in the pathogenesis of the liver damage. Considering the likely involvement of the immune system in AH, and the frequent use of Lewis rats in autoimmune disease models, Lewis rats were examined in the model to determine whether they would more closely mimic the immune status of a chronic alcoholic and be a preferable strain for use in future experiments. Lipopolysaccharide-induced hepatic tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-1α, interleukin-1β, and interleukin-6 mRNA expression was examined in both rat strains. The overall pattern of histological (panlobular piecemeal necrosis) and biochemical liver damage (plasma ALT levels), and cytokine expression was similar in both strains. Thus, it would appear that, despite the known susceptibility of Lewis rats to autoimmune phenomena, they do not respond to the experimental regime significantly better than Wistar rats. This study confirms that unknown mediators are contributing to the liver damage seen in this model and possibly in AH.