The effect of a potent platelet-activating factor (PAF) antagonist, BB-882, on an experimental model of acute pancreatitis induced in male Wistar rats by a technique of microvascular ischaemia was studied. A single intraperitoneal injection of BB-882 (5 mg/kg) 30 min after induction of the disease in 12 animals significantly reduced (P < 0.001) the rise in the level of serum amylase (mean 2477 (range 2100-3280) units/l) compared with that in 12 control animals (mean 3928 (range 2800-5900) units/l) and significantly improved (P < 0.001) the mean pancreatic histology score (5.0 (range 3-10) versus 12.3 (range 8-18) in controls). PAF is a biologically active ether phosphorylcholine synthesized in cell membranes and a potent inflammatory mediator. Pancreatic tissue levels of this compound are increased in experimental acute pancreatitis and pretreatment with PAF receptor antagonists can ameliorate the progression of this disease. BB-882 alters the early course of experimental pancreatitis and may have a clinical therapeutic role.