The effect of an antipyretic drug administered directly into the preoptic-anterior hypothalamus was measured in order to investigate the role of fever on mortality of bacterially infected mammals. New Zealand white rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) were injected intravenously with Pasteurella multocida and either sodium salicylate or a control solution was infused directly into the preoptic-anterior hypothalamus. Both groups developed fevers, but the fever of the rabbits infused with the antipyretic was reduced by 50% during the initial stage of infection. Hypothalamic sodium salicylate infusions produced a lower average fever than control infusions over an initial 5 hour period of infection, reducing average 5 hour fevers from 1.56 degrees C to 0.72 degrees C. All of the infected rabbits infused with sodium salicylate died whereas only 29% of the infected control rabbits died. Rabbits receiving sodium salicylate alone did not die. The increased mortality could possibly be the result of a fulminating infection caused by rapidly multiplying bacteria during the initial, attenuated phase of the febrile course in the salicylate-treated rabbits.