B cells perform various immunological functions that include production of antibody, presentation of antigens, secretion of multiple cytokines and regulation of immune responses mainly via their secretion of interleukin (IL)-10. While the liver is regarded both as an important immune organ and a tolerogenic environment, little is known about the functional biology of hepatic B cells. In this study we demonstrate that, following lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulation in vivo, normal mouse hepatic B cells rapidly increase their surface expression of CD39, CD40, CD80 and CD86, and produce significantly elevated levels of proinflammatory interferon (IFN)-γ, IL-6 and tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α compared with splenic B cells. Moreover, LPS-activated hepatic B cells produce very low levels of IL-10 compared with activated splenic B cells that produce comparatively high levels of this immunosuppressive cytokine. Splenic, but not hepatic, B cells inhibited the activation of liver conventional myeloid dendritic cells (mDCs). Furthermore, compared with the spleen, the liver exhibited significantly smaller proportions of B1a and marginal zone-like B cells, which have been shown to produce IL-10 upon LPS stimulation. These data suggest that, unlike in the spleen, IL-10-producing regulatory B cells in the liver are not a prominent cell type. Consistent with this, when compared with liver conventional mDCs from B cell-deficient mice, those from B cell-competent wild-type mice displayed enhanced expression of the cell surface co-stimulatory molecule CD86, greater production of proinflammatory cytokines (IFN-γ, IL-6, IL-12p40) and reduced secretion of IL-10. These findings suggest that hepatic B cells have the potential to initiate rather than regulate inflammatory responses.