Our previous study showed that abdominal paracentesis drainage (APD) benefits patients with severe acute pancreatitis (SAP) by delaying or avoiding multiple organ failure. However, the role of APD treatment in SAP-associated lung injury (PALI) remains unclear. Therefore, we investigated the impact of APD on PALI in rats to explore the mechanisms underlying its potential treatment benefits. A drainage tube was inserted into the right lower quadrant of rats immediately after SAP induction via the retrograde infusion of 5% sodium taurocholate into the biliopancreatic duct. Mortality rates, histological scores, wet-to-dry weight (W/D) ratios, inflammatory infiltration and oxidative stress in lung tissues were then examined. Xanthine dehydrogenase (XDH) and xanthine oxidase (XOD) activities in the sera, intestines and lungs were assessed, as was P-selectin expression. APD treatment significantly decreased pathological damage scores, oxidative stress and neutrophil infiltration in lung tissues, indicating that APD has protective effects against PALI in rats. Moreover, APD decreased the levels of serum α-amylase and trypsin and resulted in a significant decrease in XDH mobilization from the intestines, which suppressed P-selectin expression in lung tissues following SAP induction. APD treatment exerts a significant protective effect against lung injury secondary to SAP by reducing the mobilization of intestinal XDH or XOD (XDH/XOD) and the expression of P-selectin in the lungs. These findings provide novel insights into the mechanisms underlying the effectiveness of APD in patients with SAP.