Abstract Background In addition to immune cells, many other cell types are known to produce cytokines. Cultured normal mouse gallbladder epithelial cells, used as a model system for gallbladder epithelium, were examined for their ability to express the mRNA of various cytokines and chemokines in response to bacterial lipopolysaccharide. The synthesis and secretion of the tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) protein by these cells was also measured. Results Untreated mouse gallbladder cells expressed mRNA for TNF-α, RANTES, and macrophage inflammatory protein-2 (MIP-2). Upon treatment with lipopolysaccharide, these cells now produced mRNA for Interleukin-1β (IL-1β), IL-6, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), and showed increased expression of TNF-α and MIP-2 mRNA. Untreated mouse gallbladder cells did not synthesize TNF-α protein; however, they did synthesize and secrete TNF-α upon treatment with lipopolysaccharide. Methods Cells were treated with lipopolysaccharides from 3 strains of bacteria. Qualitative and semi-quantitative RT-PCR, using cytokine or chemokine-specific primers, was used to measure mRNA levels of TNFα, IL-1β, IL-6, IL-10, KC, RANTES, MCP-1, and MIP-2. TNF-α protein was measured by immunoassays. Conclusion This research demonstrates that gallbladder epithelial cells in response to lipopolysaccharide exposure can alter their cytokine and chemokine RNA expression pattern and can synthesize and secrete TNFα protein. This suggests a mechanism whereby gallbladder epithelial cells in vivo may mediate gallbladder secretory function, inflammation and diseases in an autocrine/paracrine fashion by producing and secreting cytokines and/or chemokines during sepsis.