We aimed to evaluate the protective effects of pentoxifylline on alcohol-induced gastric injury, its relation with nitric oxide and prostaglandin synthesis, as well as gastric acidity in rats. Acute gastric mucosal injury was induced by intragastric infusion of 2 ml 98% alcohol. Pentoxifylline was given at 100 mg/kg intraperitoneally. Indomethacin and N(G)-nitro-L arginine were used to inhibit prostaglandin and nitric oxide synthesis, respectively. Macroscopic and microscopic gastric injuries were evaluated. Gastric pH, tissue malondialdehyde levels, oxidized and reduced glutathion (GSSG/GSH) levels, and effects of pentoxifylline on gastric acid output were measured. Pentoxifylline pretreatment significantly reduced macroscopic and microscopic gastric injury. Malondialdehyde level was lower in pentoxifylline treated rats (351.1 +/- 94.1 nmol/g vs 624.3 +/- 234.2 nmol/g). Pentoxifylline has a protective role on alcohol-induced gastric mucosal injury in rats. This effect is not related to synthesis of prostaglandins and changes in gastric acidity but does seem to be related to nitric oxide-mediated pathways. In contrast, pentoxifylline increases gastric acid output significantly.