Escherichia coli strain Nissle 1917 (EcN) is as effective in maintaining remission in ulcerative colitis as is treatment with mesalazine. This study aims to evaluate murine models of acute and chronic intestinal inflammation to study the antiinflammatory effect of EcN in vivo. Acute colitis was induced in mice with 2% dextran-sodium sulfate (DSS) in drinking water. EcN was administered from day -2 to day +7. Chronic colitis was induced by transfer of CD4(+) CD62L(+) T lymphocytes from BALB/c mice in SCID mice. EcN was administered three times/week from week 1 to week 8 after cell transfer. Mesenteric lymph node (MLN) cytokine secretion (of gamma interferon [IFN-gamma], interleukin 5 [IL-5], IL-6, and IL-10) was measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Histologic sections of the colon were analyzed by using a score system ranging from 0 to 4. Intestinal contents and homogenized MLN were cultured, and the number of E. coli-like colonies was determined. EcN was identified by repetitive extragenic palindromic (REP) PCR. EcN administration to DSS-treated mice reduced the secretion of proinflammatory cytokines (IFN-gamma, 32,477 +/- 6,377 versus 9,734 +/- 1,717 [P = 0.004]; IL-6, 231 +/- 35 versus 121 +/- 17 [P = 0.02]) but had no effect on the mucosal inflammation. In the chronic experimental colitis of the transfer model, EcN ameliorated the intestinal inflammation (histology score, 2.7 +/- 0.2 versus 1.9 +/- 0.3 [P = 0.02]) and reduced the secretion of proinflammatory cytokines. Translocation of EcN and resident E. coli into MLN was observed in the chronic colitis model but not in healthy controls. Administration of EcN ameliorated acute and chronic experimental colitis by modifying proinflammatory cytokine secretion but had no influence on the acute DSS-induced colitis. In this model, preexisting colitis was necessary for translocation of EcN and resident E. coli into MLN.