Proteinase-activated receptor (PAR)-2, a G-protein-coupled receptor for trypsin and mast cell tryptase, is highly expressed in the intestine. Luminal trypsin and tryptase are elevated in the colon of inflammatory bowel disease patients. We hypothesized that luminal proteinases activate PAR-2 and induce colonic inflammation. Mice received intracolonically PAR-2 agonists (trypsin, tryptase, and a selective PAR-2-activating peptide) or control drugs (boiled enzymes, inactive peptide) and inflammatory parameters were followed at various times after this treatment. Colonic administration of PAR-2 agonists up-regulated PAR-2 expression and induced an inflammatory reaction characterized by granulocyte infiltration, increased wall thickness, tissue damage, and elevated T-helper cell type 1 cytokine. The inflammation was maximal between 4 and 6 hours and was resolved 48 hours after the intracolonic administration. PAR-2 activation also increased paracellular permeability of the colon and induced bacterial trans-location into peritoneal organs. These proinflammatory and pathophysiological changes observed in wild-type mice were not detected in PAR-2-deficient mice. Luminal proteinases activate PAR-2 in the mouse colon to induce inflammation and disrupt the integrity of the intestinal barrier. Because trypsin and tryptase are found at high levels in the colon lumen of patients with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, our data may bear directly on the pathophysiology of human inflammatory bowel diseases.