A rat model of experimental colitis and jejunitis induced by iodoacetamide (IA), a sulphydryl blocker is accompanied by increased leukotriene, prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) generation, and nitric oxide synthase (NOS) activity. Rat small intestinal and colonic surfactant-like particles (SLP) that accumulate on the apical surface of mucosal cells have been identified and specific antibodies to them have been produced. The aim of this study was to evaluate a possible role of SLP in IA-induced colitis and jejunitis. Inflammation was induced in Sprague-Dawley rats either by intracolonic administration of 3% IA (0.1 ml) or by intrajejunal administration of 2% IA (0.1 ml). Antisera raised against either colonic SLP, pulmonary SP-A (a major protein associated with colonie SLP), or small intestinal SLP were injected into the tail vein of rats 48 h before, simultaneous with, or 24 h after IA administration. Rats were killed 2 or 10 days after IA was given, their colon or small intestine was isolated and rinsed, and a segment of colon (10 cm) or small bowel (30 cm) was weighed and processed for microscopy, NOS and myeloperoxidase (MPO) activities, and PGE2 generation. Intracolonic or jejunal IA resulted after 48 h in extensive macroscopic and microscopic damage, accompanied by increased segmental weight, MPO and NOS activity, and PGE2 generation. Colonic SLP antibody administration, either 48 h before or at the time of damage induction, significantly decreased macroscopic as well as microscopic damage, segmental weight, MPO activity, and PGE2 generation, but had no effect on NOS activity. Neither control sera nor antisera against SP-A had any protective effect, nor did injection of anti-colonic SLP antisera given 24 h after IA. Small bowel SLP antibody offered no protection against IA jejunitis. IA-induced colitis but not jejunitis is ameliorated by intravenous injection of SLP antibody by a mechanism yet to be determined. These data provide further evidence of a physiologic role for gastrointestinal SLP.