Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFalpha) and interleukin-1 (IL-1) have been recognized as key proinflammatory mediators in the pathogenesis of lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced liver injury. In the present study we examined the effect of FR167653, a novel inhibitor of TNFalpha and IL-1 synthesis, on the hepatic microvascular response to LPS using in vivo microscopy. Significant hepatic microvascular responses comprising leukocyte adhesion to the sinusoidal wall and central venules and reduced sinusoidal perfusion appeared 2 and 4 h after LPS (0.1 mg/kg, i.v.) injection in male C3H/HeN mice (LPS sensitive) when compared with male C3H/HeJ mice (LPS resistant). The serum concentrations of TNFalpha at 1.5 h and IL-1beta at 4 h after injection of LPS, as determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, were significantly higher in C3H/HeN mice than in C3H/HeJ mice. Administration of murine TNFalpha or IL-1beta (10 microg/kg., i.v., respectively) in both C3H/HeN and C3H/HeJ mice elicited the hepatic microvascular responses that were similar to those produced by LPS injection in C3H/HeN mice. FR167653 (1 and 10 mg/kg, i.v., 0 and 2 h after LPS injection) significantly reduced leukocyte adhesion and restored sinusoidal perfusion in a dose-dependent manner in C3H/HeN mice 4 h after LPS injection. The levels of TNFalpha, IL-1beta, and alanine aminotransferase also were significantly lower in FR167653-treated endotoxemic C3H/HeN mice than those in vehicle-treated endotoxemic animals. The results suggest that the hepatic microvascular response to LPS is partly mediated by TNFalpha and IL-1beta, and that FR167653 prevents LPS-induced hepatic microcirculatory dysfunction by inhibiting the production of TNFalpha and IL-1beta.