The capacity of the lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated isolated erythrocyte-perfused rat kidney (IEPK) to produce monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), interleukin-1 beta (IL-1 beta), and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) mRNA was investigated. The IEPK was chosen to exclude the influence of circulating neutrophils and monocytes that can produce both these mediators when exposed to LPS. The control minimal LPS group (LPS < 10 pg/ml) showed a small increase in mRNA expression for MCP-1, IL-1 beta, and TNF-alpha in the cortex and medulla after 80 min of perfusion when compared with the unperfused left kidney in which no IL-1 beta or TNF-alpha mRNA and only minimal amounts of MCP-1 mRNA were detected. LPS stimulation (1 microgram/ml for 40 or 80 min) increased MCP-1, IL-1 beta, and TNF-alpha mRNA expression, which was found predominately in peritubular capillary endothelial cells by in situ hybridization. The changes were not due to a marked perturbation of LPS on renal hemodynamics. The renal vascular resistance (RVR) remained constant (40 min LPS exposure) or increased only slightly during the last 5-10 min (80 min LPS exposure) compared with a progressive increase in RVR of the minimal LPS group. The hemodynamic effects of LPS on the IEPK appear to counteract the gradual increase in RVR seen in the minimal LPS group.