Chronic inflammation of the colon and the rectum was induced by intracolonic administration of 25 mg trinitrobenzoic sulfonic acid (TNB) in 0.25 ml 30% ethanol. Three weeks after TNB administration the colon and the rectum showed transmural, granulomatous inflammation which had many similarities to Crohn's disease and furthermore to the morphological and functional changes which occur in early phases of postischemic intestinal damage. In the colon of TNB-treated animals the ATP and GTP levels were markedly decreased. The accumulation of thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances (TBA-RS) demonstrated a free radical-mediated component of the tissue damage. Treatment with oxypurinol radical scavenger and xanthine oxidoreductase inhibitor diminished the morphological changes, the loss of energy-rich nucleotides and the TBA-RS accumulation.