Total parenteral nutrition (TPN) induces a high rate of liver disease in infants, yet the pathogenesis remains elusive. We used neonatal piglets as an animal model to assess early events leading to TPN-mediated liver injury. Newborn piglets (n = 7) were nourished for 7 d on TPN or enteral nutrition (EN) and the liver tissue and isolated hepatocytes were subjected to morphologic and molecular analysis. Histological analysis revealed prominent steatosis (grade > 2) in 6 of 7 TPN pigs, whereas minimal steatosis (grade < or = 1) was observed in only 2 EN pigs. Abundant cytosolic cytochrome C and DNA fragmentation were observed in hepatocytes from TPN compared with EN piglets. Markers of mitochondrial and Fas-mediated apoptosis were altered in TPN liver tissue, as indicated by a lower ATP concentration (P < 0.05), accumulation of ubiquitin, 9.9-fold activation of caspase-3 activity (P < 0.01), and increased cleavage of poly-(ADP-ribose) polymerase, caspase-8, -9, and -7 when compared with EN livers. Bcl-2 and proliferating cell nuclear antigen expression was downregulated, whereas Fas and Bax were upregulated in TPN livers. However, levels of caspase-12 and Bip/GRP78, both markers of endoplasmic reticulum-mediated apoptosis, did not differ between the groups. Short-term TPN induces steatosis and oxidative stress, which results in apoptosis mediated by the mitochondrial and Fas pathways. Thus, TPN-induced steatosis in newborn piglets may serve as a novel animal model to assess the pathogenesis of fatty liver and apoptosis-mediated liver injury in infants.