Extracellular regulated kinases (ERK1/2) and c-Jun N-terminal Kinases (JNK), are generally considered to play a key role in signal transduction pathways activated by a wide range of stimuli. We studied the effects of SP600125, a novel inhibitor of both JNK and ERK1/2, in male C57/BL6 mice given with an hyper-stimulating dose of cerulein (50 microg/kg for each of four injections at hourly intervals) to elicit secretagogue-induced pancreatitis. A control group received four intra-peritoneal injections of 0.9% saline at hourly intervals. Animals were randomized to receive either SP600125 (15 mg/kg i.p. administered 2 h before and 30 min after the first injection of cerulein) or its vehicle (1 ml/kg of a 10% DMSO/NaCl solution). A group of animals was killed 30 minutes after the last cerulein injection to evaluate pancreatic JNK and ERK1/2 activation by Western Blot analysis. Another group was sacrificed 2 hours after the last cerulein injection to evaluate serum lipase and amylase levels, pancreas oedema, pancreatic content of Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and Intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) and the histological alterations. SP600125 inhibited almost totally JNK activation (90%) and partially ERK1/2 activation (45%), reduced the serum lipase and amylase levels and the degree of oedema, blunted the increased pancreatic content of TNF-alpha and ICAM-1 and protected against the histological damage. Our data confirm that both JNK and ERK1/2 activation plays a key role in acute pancreatitis and that SP600125 may represent a potential therapeutic approach to the treatment of patients at high risk of developing this life-threatening condition.