Oral tolerance is the induction of immune hyporesponsiveness to orally administered antigens. It was described in association with a decrease in interferon gamma (IFNgamma) production by activated T cells. To determine the role of IFNgamma and IL10 in immunemodulation via oral tolerization. Colitis was induced by intracolonic instillation of trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid. Treated mice received five oral doses of colitis-extracted proteins (CEPs) every other day, starting immediately after colitis induction. Control mice received similar doses of bovine serum albumin. Colitis was assessed in both groups by standard clinical, micro- and macroscopic scores. IFNgamma and IL10 expression in splenic lymphocytes from both groups was tested by RT-PCR immediately after oral feeding, 1, 4, 8, 12, and 24 h thereafter and then every 24 h for 2 weeks. Feeding of CEPs markedly ameliorated experimental colitis. These mice gained weight and showed markedly improved macro- and microscopic parameters of colitis. Tolerized mice exhibited IFNgamma expression in splenic lymphocytes starting immediately following oral CEP immunization and up to 14 d thereafter. IL10 was expressed starting 1 h after CEP feeding and during the first 48 h thereafter. In contrast, non-tolerized control mice manifested IFNgamma expression starting on day 6 and had no IL10 expression. Early induction of IFNgamma expression by oral antigen may be associated with systemic tolerance in the experimental colitis setting. In contrast, late expression of IFNgamma is associated with a pro-inflammatory response in non-tolerized controls.