IFN-gamma is a potent pro-inflammatory cytokine thought to be involved in the pathogenesis of Crohn's disease. To further define the role of IFN-gamma in intestinal inflammation, we studied the effects of intra-colonic 2,4,6-trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid (TNBS) instillation in mice with a functionally inactivated IFN-gamma receptor 1 (IFN-gammaR1(- / -)). Our results indicate that IFN-gamma is not necessary for the induction of hapten-induced colitis: after TNBS administration both wild-type and IFN-gammaR1(- / -) mice lost body weight, and the histological features of TNBS-induced colitis were comparable. Colons of IFN-gammaR1(- / -) mice contained a greater number of cells, represented by macrophages and CD4(+) T cells; caudal lymph node cells produced more IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha upon stimulation in vitro. Moreover, IL-18 and IL-12 p40 RNA levels were comparably up-regulated after TNBS treatment in IFN-gammaR1(- / -) wild-type mice. These findings demonstrate that IFN-gamma is dispensable for the development of TNBS-induced colitis. Importantly, the production of Th1 cytokines (e. g. IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha) by caudal lymph node T lymphocytes was enhanced rather than decreased in IFNgammaR1(- / -) mice with no evidence for default Th2 development.