To investigate the possible involvement of leptin signaling in lipopolysaccharide (LPS) anorexia, we compared the anorectic effect of LPS in genetically obese (fa/fa) Zucker rats and in their lean (Fa/?) counterparts. The effects of interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta) and muramyl dipeptide (MDP) were also tested. LPS [100 microg/kg body weight (BW)], IL-1beta (2 microg/kg BW) and MDP (2.2 mg/kg BW) injected intraperitoneally (i.p.) at lights out reduced food intake similarly in obese and lean rats. LPS injection at 500 or 1000 microg/kg BW (i.p.) also reduced food intake and BW similarly in obese and lean rats, but obese regained BW faster than lean rats. LPS (2.45 microg or 9.8 microg/h/rat) administered chronically with i.p. implanted osmotic pumps reduced food intake similarly on experimental day 1, regardless of the genotype. After day 3, the lean rats' anorectic response and recovery were dose-dependent, whereas the anorectic response in obese rats was minimally affected by dose (significant dose effect only on day 3). Again, obese rats regained lost BW faster than lean rats. These results do not support a role for leptin as the sole mediator of anorexia induced by bacterial products (LPS and MDP) and IL-1beta.