Glucosamine, a naturally occurring amino monosaccharide, is widely used to treat osteoarthritis in humans. Furthermore, glucosamine exhibits an anti-inflammatory action by inhibiting the activation of neutrophils, chondrocytes and synoviocytes. Recently, we revealed that glucosamine suppresses cytokine-induced activation of intestinal epithelial cells in vitro. In the present study therefore, we investigated whether glucosamine exhibits the anti-inflammatory effect in vivo, using dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced colitis in rats, a model of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). The results indicated that glucosamine improved the clinical symptoms (evaluated by disease activity index), and suppressed colonic inflammation (evaluated by colon length and weight/length ratio) and tissue injury (evaluated by histological damage score) in DSS-induced colitis. Furthermore, glucosamine inhibited the activation of intestinal epithelial cells, as evidenced by the suppressed phosphorylation of NF-kappaB in the intestinal mucosa of DSS-induced colitis. Collectively, these observations suggest that glucosamine is likely to suppress the activation of intestinal epithelial cells in vivo, thereby possibly exhibiting anti-inflammatory action in a DSS-induced rat colitis model. Thus, glucosamine could prove to be a useful agent for IBD.