Hypersensitivity to rectal or colonic distension characterizes most patients with IBS and increased gut permeability has been described in post-dysenteric IBS patients. However, no link has been established between these two events. The aim of this study was to determine (i) whether chemical blockade of stress-induced increase of colonic paracellular permeability by 2,4,6 triaminopyrimidine (TAP) affects the concomitant hypersensitivity to colonic distension, (ii) the role of epithelial cell contraction in the stress-induced increased permeability and hyperalgesia, using a myosin light chain kinase inhibitor (ML-7). The effect of acute partial restraint stress (PRS) on visceral sensitivity to colorectal distension (RD) was assessed by abdominal muscle electromyography. Colonic paracellular permeability was determined by measuring percentage of urinary 51Cr-EDTA recovery after intracolonic infusion. The effect of stress on both parameters was evaluated after TAP, ML-7 or vehicle pretreated animals. PRS significantly increased colonic paracellular permeability and the number of spike bursts for all volumes of RD applied compared to sham. TAP suppressed the stress-induced increase of colonic paracellular permeability and sensitivity to colonic distension. Similarly, ML-7 blocked the stress-induced increase of colonic paracellular permeability and sensitivity. Neither ML-7 nor TAP had any effect on both permeability and sensitivity in absence of stress. The increase of colonic permeability induced by PRS results from epithelial cell cytoskeleton contraction through myosin light chain kinase activation and this increase is responsible for stress-induced rectal hypersensitivity.