Kinin B1 receptors are known to be highly induced after inflammatory stimuli in several biological systems. We report that incubation of pig iris sphincter with lipopolysaccharide from Escherichia coli caused a marked and time-related up-regulation of B1, accompanied by a reduction of B2 receptor-mediated contractile responses. The up-regulation of B1 receptors by lipopolysaccharide stimulation was decreased by the inhibitors of protein synthesis, cycloheximide and actinomycin D, and by dexamethasone and the nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) inhibitor pyrrolidinedithiocarbamate (PDTC). In addition, lipopolysaccharide-induced up-regulation of B1 receptors in the pig iris sphincter was significantly reduced by the p38 inhibitor 4-(4-fluorophenyl)-2-(4-methylsulfinylphenyl)-5-(4-pyridyl)1H-imidazole (SB203580) and to a lesser extent by the extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2 (ERK1/2) blocker 2'-amino-3'-methoxyflavone (PD98059). Molecular biology experiments demonstrated that in vitro incubation with lipopolysaccharide resulted in a time-dependent and remarkable activation of NF-kappaB and of p38 and ERK1/2 mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases, in pig iris sphincter preparations. While attempting to verify how MAP kinases are part of the B1 receptor-activated signaling transduction pathways, we observed that PD98059 was able to markedly reduce the contraction induced by B1 receptor activation in lipopolysaccharide-pretreated pig iris sphincter muscle but that this response was only partially decreased by SB203580. Our results extend the previous evidence on the mechanisms underlying the B1 receptor upregulation processes and demonstrate for the first time how this takes place in an ocular tissue, the pig iris sphincter. It is therefore possible to define B1 receptors as therapeutic targets for the treatment of infectious and inflammatory alterations of the eye.