The effects of methyl palmitate (MP), a known inhibitor of Kupffer cells, were studied in a model of polymicrobial sepsis induced in CD-1 mice by cecal ligation and puncture (CLP). The inhibition of Kupffer cells by pretreatment with MP was shown by the reduced phagocytosis, the production of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) after lipopolysaccharide (LPS) challenge. The reduced activation of Kupffer cells resulted in lower levels of inflammatory products after CLP. TNF and IL-6 were significantly reduced in serum 2 h and 24 h respectively after CLP, interleukin-1 beta (IL-1 beta) was reduced in liver 4 h after CLP, nitric oxide (NO) and serum amyloid A (SAA) were significantly reduced 8 and 24 h respectively after CLP. Liver toxicity was significantly reduced in MP-treated mice and survival was significantly prolonged at all intervals, reaching 45% after six to ten days compared with 3% in control mice. These findings suggest that Kupffer cells play an important role in liver damage and survival in sepsis.