Anthocyanins are a group of naturally occuring phenolic compounds related to the coloring of plants, flowers and fruits. These pigments are important as quality indicators, as chemotaxonomic markers and for their antioxidant activities. Here, we have investigated the therapeutic efficacy of anthocyanins contained in blackberry extract (cyanidin-3-O-glucoside represents about 80% of the total anthocyanin contents) in an experimental model of lung inflammation induced by carrageenan in rats. Injection of carrageenan into the pleural cavity elicited an acute inflammatory response characterized by fluid accumulation which contained a large number of neutrophils as well as an infiltration of polymorphonuclear leukocytes in lung tissues and subsequent lipid peroxidation, and increased production of nitrite/nitrate (NOx) and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). All parameters of inflammation were attenuated in a dose-dependent manner by anthocyanins (10, 30 mg kg(-1) 30 min before carrageenan). Furthermore, carrageenan induced an upregulation of the adhesion molecule ICAM-1, nitrotyrosine and poly (ADP-ribose) synthetase (PARS) as determined by immunohistochemical analysis of lung tissues. The degree of staining was lowered by anthocyanins treatment. Thus, the anthocyanins contained in the blackberry extract exert multiple protective effects in carrageenan-induced pleurisy.