In rats injected with bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS; 5 gamma mg/g body weight [BWT]), the toxin provokes death within 24 h in 23% of the animals and, in surviving rats, causes a decrease in BWT, hyperlactacidemia, hyperlipacidemia, and hyperketonemia, as well as depletion of both liver and muscle glycogen content. In the liver, LPS severely lowers the ATP and total adenine nucleotide content, ATP/ADP ratio, and adenylate charge. In hepatocytes from LPS-injected rats, the oxidation of D-glucose is first increased 2 h after administration of the toxin, despite close-to-normal phosphorylation of the hexose. In hepatocytes prepared from rats killed 24 h after injection of LPS, the phosphorylation of D-glucose, its incorporation into glycogen, and its oxidation are all severely impaired. This sequence of changes, which coincides with a decreased ratio between pyruvate and lactate production from exogenous D-glucose, is comparable to that found with agents that uncouple oxidative phosphorylation. The injection of LPS also alters the metabolic response of hepatocytes to the dimethyl ester of succinic acid (SAD), in terms, for instance, of the sparing action of the ester upon both the production of 14CO2 by hepatocytes prelabeled with L-[U-14C] glutamine and the output of NH4+, and its inhibitory action on glycogenolysis and futile cycling in the reactions catalyzed by glucokinase and glucose-6-phosphatase. Nevertheless, the infusion of SAD protects the rats against the deleterious effect of LPS upon such variables as the plasma concentration of free fatty acids and beta-hydroxybutyrate, the liver ATP content, and the oxidation of D-glucose, as well as the pyruvate/lactate ratio, in hepatocytes prepared from the LPS-injected rats. The infusion of SAD also virtually suppresses lethality in the LPS-injected animals. It is proposed, therefore, that the infusion of succinic acid esters may represent a novel therapeutic approach in endotoxemia and multiple-organ failure.