Previous studies proposed a protective role of the dietary intake of (n-3) PUFA in human inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), but almost no studies have been performed using olive oil. The aims of the present study were to test the beneficial effects of an olive oil-based diet with or without fish oil, rich in (n-3) PUFA, in the dextran sodium sulfate (DSS) model of rat colitis and to elucidate the mechanisms involved in their potential beneficial effects, with special attention to the production of some of the mediators involved in the intestinal inflammatory response, such as leukotriene B(4) (LTB(4)), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha) and nitric oxide (NO). Rats were fed the different diets for 2 wk before colitis induction and thereafter until colonic evaluation 15 d later. Colitic rats fed the olive oil-based diet had a lower colonic inflammatory response than those fed the soybean oil diet, and this beneficial effect was increased by the dietary incorporation of (n-3) PUFA. A restoration of colonic glutathione levels and lower colonic NO synthase expression occurred in all colitic rats fed an olive oil diet compared with the control colitic group that consumed the soybean oil diet. However, (n-3) PUFA incorporation into an olive oil diet significantly decreased colonic TNFalpha and LTB(4) levels compared with colitic rats that were not supplemented with fish oil. These results affirm the benefits of an olive oil diet in the management of IBD, which are further enhanced by the addition of (n-3) PUFA.