We have previously reported the antifibrotic effects of pirfenidone (PD) in the bleomycin (BL)-hamster model of lung fibrosis. Since the development of fibrosis is generally preceded by acute lung inflammation, the present study was conducted to find out if dietary intake of PD (0.5%) has any effects on BL-induced lung inflammation. In this regard, we evaluated the effects of PD on BL-induced increased pulmonary vascular permeability, increased influx of inflammatory cells and increased levels of TGF-beta in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF). Hamsters were intratracheally (IT) instilled with saline (SA) or BL (5.5 units/kg/5 ml). The animals were fed the control diet (CD) or the same diet containing 0.5% PD 2 days prior to IT instillation and throughout the study. The bronchoalveolar lavage was carried out at different times after IT instillation. Lavage fluid was used for total and differential cell counts and BALF-supernatant for measurement of total protein and TGF-beta. IT instillation of BL caused significant increases in total cells, neutrophils, macrophages and lymphocytes and in the levels of total protein and TGF-beta in BALF from hamsters in the BL + CD groups as compared to the corresponding SA + CD control groups. In contrast, treatment with pirfenidone in general, suppressed the BL-induced increases in the levels of proteins and TGF-beta and in the influx of neutrophils, macrophages and lymphocytes in BALF at the early time points in BL + PD groups. Based on the data reported in this study, we conclude that the anti-inflammatory effects of pirfenidone as evident by suppressions of BL-induced increased pulmonary vascular permeability and increased influx of inflammatory cells in the lung contribute additionally to its inherent anti-fibrotic effect.