The therapeutic properties of artichoke (Cynara scolymus L.) preparations have been known since ancient times. The traditional use of artichoke leaf extract (ALE) in gastroenterology is mainly based upon its strong antidyspeptic actions which are mediated by its choleretic activity. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of ALE on bile flow and the formation of bile compounds in anaesthetised Wistar rats after acute and repeated (twice a day for 7 consecutive days) oral administration. A significant increase in bile flow was observed after acute treatment with ALE as well as after repeated administration. The choleretic effects of ALE were similar to those of the reference compound dehydrocholic acid (DHCA). Total bile acids, cholesterol and phospholipid were determined by enzymatic assays. There was a strong ALE-induced increase in total bile acid concentration over the entire experiment. With the highest dose (400 mg/kg), a significant increase was obtained after single and repeated administration. The bile acids-increased effects of ALE were much more pronounced than those of reference (DHCA). No significant differences in cholesterol and phospholipid content could be found.