Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) has been implicated in the pathogenesis of inflammatory diseases including asthma. We examined the effect of SP600125 (anthra [1,9-cd] pyrazol-6 (2H)-one), a novel inhibitor of JNK in a model of asthma. Brown-Norway rats were sensitized to ovalbumin and treated with SP600125 intraperitoneally (90 mg/kg in total). SP600125 inhibited allergen-induced, increased activity of phosphorylated c-jun but not of phosphorylated-MAPKAPK2, indicative of activation of p38 MAPK, in the lung. SP600125 inhibited macrophage (P < 0.04), lymphocyte (P < 0.05), eosinophil (P < 0.04) and neutrophil (P < 0.005) numbers in bronchoalveolar lavage. Eosinophil and T-cell accumulation in the airways, mRNA expression for interleukin-1beta, tumour necrosis factor-beta, interleukin-3, interleukin-4 and interleukin-5, serum levels of allergen-specific immunoglobulin E and bronchial hyperresponsiveness were not affected by SP600125. Selective inhibition of JNK reduced inflammatory cell egress into the airway lumen after single allergen exposure. The role of JNK mitogen-activated protein kinase activation may be limited in the pathogenesis of bronchial hyperresponsiveness after single allergen exposure.