In normal rats the proinflammatory cytokines like interleukin-1beta, interleukin-6, which are induced by bacterial lipopolysaccharides, are able to control thalamo-cortical excitability by exerting strong effects on physiological synchronization such as sleep and on pathological synchronization like that in epileptic discharges. To investigate whether proinflammatory cytokines or lipopolysaccharides could modulate absence seizures resulting from a very different generator mechanism than the already investigated bicuculline-, kindling- and kainate-induced seizures, we used a genetically epileptic Wistar Albino Glaxo/Rijswijk rat strain, which is spontaneously generating high voltage spike-wave discharges. Wistar Albino Glaxo/Rijswijk rats responded with an increase of the number of spike-wave discharges to lipopolysaccharide injection (from 10 microg/kg to 350 microg/kg). Repetitive administration of 350 microg/kg lipopolysaccharides daily for 5 days increased the number of spike-wave discharges on the first, second and third days but the number of spike-wave discharges returned to the control value on day 5, at the 5th injection of lipopolysaccharides, showing a tolerance to lipopolysaccharides. The lipopolysaccharide-induced increase in spike-wave discharges was not directly correlated with the elevation of the core body temperature, as it is in febrile seizures, although lipopolysaccharide induced prostaglandin and is clearly pyrogenic at the doses used. Indomethacin, the prostaglandin synthesis inhibitor, efficiently blocked lipopolysaccharide-induced enhancement of spike-wave discharge genesis suggesting that the spike-wave discharge facilitating effect of lipopolysaccharides involves induction of cyclooxygenase 2 and subsequent synthesis and actions of prostaglandin E2. Low dose (40 mg/kg, i.p.) of competitive N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor antagonist 2-amino-5-phosphonopentanoic acid, and low dose of lipopolysaccharide (20 microg/kg) showed a synergistic interaction to increase the number of spike-wave discharges, whereas at supramaximal doses of lipopolysaccharide and the N-methyl-D-aspartate antagonist no synergy was present. The data reveal a functional connection between absence epileptic activity and lipopolysaccharide induction of prostaglandin synthesis and prostaglandin action and suggest some common cellular targets in epilepsy and lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammation.