Twelve healthy primiparous sows received intramammary inoculation with Escherichia coli (serotype O127) during the 24-h period preceding parturition. Mammary gland biopsy samples were taken immediately before inoculation (0 h) and from the inoculated and the contralateral non-inoculated glands 24 h after inoculation. The analyses of interleukin-1 beta (IL-1beta), IL-6, IL-8, and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) by immunohistochemistry revealed that the production of these proinflammatory cytokines significantly increased in the inoculated mammary glands of sows that developed clinical signs of mastitis (affected group, n=4) 24 h after inoculation. This was also true for IL-8 in the inoculated mammary glands of sows that did not develop clinical signs of mastitis (nonaffected group, n=8). Sows that developed clinical signs of mastitis displayed significantly lower constitutive production of IL-1beta than did sows that remained clinically healthy. The data indicate that the development of clinical symptoms of coliform mastitis in the sow is associated with a locally increased proinflammatory cytokine production in response to intramammary E. coli infection.