The differential effects of endotoxin derived from Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Escherichia coli on hepatic cytochrome P450 (CYP)-dependent drug-metabolizing enzyme activity and on the expression of hepatic CYP3A2, CYP2C11, P-glycoprotein and multidrug resistance-associated protein 2 (Mrp2) was investigated in rats. Endotoxin from all three different pathogens significantly decreased the systemic clearance of antipyrine, reflecting reduced hepatic drug-metabolizing enzyme activity 24 h after intravenous injection (0.5 mg/kg). The degree of the decreased systemic clearance by P. aeruginosa endotoxin was smaller than that by both K. pneumoniae and E. coli endotoxin. Western blot analysis revealed that the down-regulation of CYP3A2 by K. pneumoniae and E. coli endotoxin was greater than that by P. aeruginosa endotoxin. However, the down-regulation of CYP2C11 by all three different endotoxin was almost the same. Both K. pneumoniae and P. aeruginosa endotoxin significantly down-regulated P-glycoprotein, but did not down-regulate Mrp2. E. coli endotoxin had no effect on the expression of either P-glycoprotein or Mrp2, probably due to the low dose used. The down-regulation of CYP3A2 by endotoxin was parallel to the decreased systemic clearance of antipyrine. These results suggest that endotoxin has a differential effect on the hepatic CYP-mediated drug-metabolizing enzyme activity, and on the protein levels of hepatic CYP3A2 and P-glycoprotein, probably due to bacterial source-differences in the production of some proinflammatory mediators. Endotoxin appears to regulate coordinately CYP3A2, CYP2C11 and P-glycoprotein, but not Mrp2.