We have previously shown that gut ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) causes simultaneous liver and lung dysfunction and that neutrophils play a critical role in this process. The purpose of this study was to ascertain whether xanthine oxidase (XO) was likewise operational. Normal and XO-inactivated rats (given a tungsten-enriched, molybdenum-depleted diet for 3 weeks) underwent 45 minutes of occlusion of the superior mesenteric artery, and control rats were subjected to a sham laparotomy. After zero and six hours of reperfusion, blood was sampled and livers and lungs harvested. Iodine-125-labeled albumin leak was used as a marker for pulmonary and liver capillary permeability barrier function, and serum acetoacetate/3-hydroxybutyrate (AcAc/3-OHB) levels as an index of hepatic mitochondrial redox state. Gut ischemia/six hours of reperfusion (I/R) increased the 125I albumin lung/blood ratio and the 125I albumin liver/blood ratio; AcAc/3-OHB levels decreased significantly. Xanthine oxidase activation eliminated the observed lung and liver capillary leak as well as the hepatic metabolic derangement induced by gut I/R. In conclusion, the simultaneous lung and liver dysfunction produced by gut I/R is mediated by XO.