BACKGROUND: Agonists of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma may help to regulate inflammation by modulating the production of inflammatory mediators and adhesion molecules. The purpose of this study was to determine the anti- inflammatory effects of rosiglitazone on renal injury in sepsis model. METHODS: In lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced mouse sepsis, we examined the effect of rosiglitazone on LPS-induced overproduction of inflammatory mediators, on the expression of adhesion molecules, on the infiltration of inflammatory cells and on renal function. RESULTS: Rosiglitazone significantly decreased serum tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha and interleukin (IL)-1beta levels during sepsis. The levels of blood urea nitrogen and creatinine were significantly lower in mice pretreated with rosiglitazone than that in LPS-treated mice. Rosiglitazone reduced the expression of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) in renal tissue of LPS-treated mice. Pretreatment with rosiglitazone reduced the infiltration of macrophages/ monocytes in renal tissue. CONCLUSION: These results indicate that pretreatment with rosiglitazone attenuated the production of TNF-alpha and IL-1beta and reduced adhesion molecule expression and infiltration of inflammatory cells in renal tissue of LPS-treated mice. Therefore, rosiglitazone may have a protective effect in maintaining renal function and reducing mortality and morbidity in sepsis.