The murine dorsal air pouch model is a valuable tool for studying acute peripheral inflammatory reactions. We used this model to study the effect of diet on the onset of acute inflammation. Mice were fed a normal or a high-fat diet (HFD) for 5 weeks. Air pouches were raised and injected with non-stimulating (saline) or stimulating solution (saline containing lipopolysaccharides). After 4 h, leukocytes in the pouch fluid were enumerated, sorted and their viability measured. Cytokine/chemokine levels in the cell-free fluid were measured using a cytometric bead assay. Gene expression level was measured in leukocytes and in lining tissues using comparative real-time PCR. Leukocyte migration and cytokine/chemokine secretion were decreased substantially in mice fed the HFD. In contrast, leptin levels were elevated. Gene expression profiles in leukocytes recovered from the pouch and in the pouchlining tissue (believed to have an important role in the initiation of granulocyte recruitment) were depressed. Genes encoding CC and CXC family chemokines were among the most negatively affected. These results suggest that a HFD can alter peripheral tissue activation as well as leukocyte recruitment and response, thereby affecting the development of an effective local immune response, which could have deleterious consequences.