1. The effects of anti-inflammatory drugs on eicosanoid formation and colonic damage in a chronic model of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in the rat were investigated. 2. A single colonic instillation of the hapten, trinitrobenzene sulphonic acid (TNB) resulted in ulceration and inflammation which persisted for 3 weeks. 3. The macroscopic colonic damage, present 3 weeks after TNB, was correlated with an increase in immunoreactive 6-keto-prostaglandin F1 alpha (6-keto-PGF1 alpha) and leukotriene B4 (LTB4) synthesis by the rat colon. 4. Anti-inflammatory drugs were administered 2 weeks after TNB, when there was substantial colonic damage, and continued for a week. The experimental drug BW755C inhibited the increased formation of 6-keto-PGF1 alpha and LTB4 by the inflamed colon. Indomethacin and aspirin markedly inhibited prostanoid formation in both inflamed and control colon. Sulphasalazine or prednisolone also inhibited the formation of 6-keto-PGF1 alpha but the effects were less marked. 5. None of the anti-inflammatory drugs significantly reduced the colonic damage induced by TNB. 6. The results suggest that eicosanoids, including LTB4, have only a minor role in maintaining the chronic macroscopic damage induced in the rat colon by TNB. The role of such eicosanoids in the underlying infiltration and activity of inflammatory cells in this model of IBD, however, is not known.