1. The peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma (PPAR-gamma) is a member of the nuclear receptor superfamily of ligand-dependent transcription factors related to retinoid, steroid and thyroid hormone receptors. The thiazolidinedione rosiglitazone and the endogenous cyclopentenone prostaglandin (PG)D2 metabolite, 15-deoxy-Delta12,14-PGJ2 (15d-PGJ2), are two PPAR-gamma ligands, which modulate the transcription of target genes. 2. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of rosiglitazone and 15d-PGJ2 on the tissue injury caused by ischaemia/reperfusion (I/R) of the gut. 3. I/R injury of the intestine was caused by clamping both the superior mesenteric artery and the coeliac trunk for 45 min, followed by release of the clamp allowing reperfusion for 2 or 4 h. This procedure results in splanchnic artery occlusion (SAO) shock. 4. Rats subjected to SAO developed a significant fall in mean arterial blood pressure, and only 10% of the animals survived for the entire 4 h reperfusion period. Surviving animals were killed for histological examination and biochemical studies. Rats subjected to SAO displayed a significant increase in tissue myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity and malondialdehyde (MDA) levels, significant increases in plasma tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha and interleukin (IL)-1beta levels and marked injury to the distal ileum. 5. Increased immunoreactivity to nitrotyrosine was observed in the ileum of rats subjected to SAO. Staining of sections of the ileum obtained from SAO rats with anti-intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM-1) antibody resulted in diffuse staining. 6. Administration at 30 min prior to the onset of gut ischaemia of the two PPAR-gamma agonists (rosiglitazone (0.3 mg kg-1 i.v.) and 15d-PGJ2 (0.3 mg kg-1 i.v.)) significantly reduced the (i) fall in mean arterial blood pressure, (ii) mortality rate, (iii) infiltration of the reperfused intestine with polymorphonuclear neutrophils (MPO activity), (iv) lipid peroxidation (MDA levels), (v) production of proinflammatory cytokines (TNF-alpha and IL-1beta) and (vi) histological evidence of gut injury. Administration of rosiglitazone and 15d-PGJ2 also markedly reduced the nitrotyrosine formation and the upregulation of ICAM-1 during reperfusion. 7. In order to elucidate whether the protective effects of rosiglitazone and 15d-PGJ2 are related to the activation of the PPAR-gamma receptor, we also investigated the effect of a PPAR-gamma antagonist, bisphenol A diglycidyl ether (BADGE), on the protective effects of rosiglitazone and 15d-PGJ2. BADGE (1 mg kg-1 administered i.v. 30 min prior to the treatment of rosiglitazone or 15d-PGJ2) significantly antagonised the effect of the two PPAR-gamma agonists and thus abolished the protective effect against gut I/R. 8. These results demonstrate that the two PPAR-gamma agonists, rosiglitazone and 15d-PGJ2, significantly reduce I/R injury of the intestine.