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The hypothesis that lactoferrin protects mice against lethal effects of bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is the subject of experimental investigations described in this article. Lipopolysaccharide is a powerful toxin produced by Gram negative bacteria that when injected into humans or experimental animals reproduce many of the pathophysiologic and immune responses caused by live bacteria. Lactoferrin administered intraperitoneally 1 hr prior to injection of LPS significantly enhanced the survival of mice, reducing LPS-induced mortality from 83.3% to 16.7%. Changes in locomotor and other behavioral activities resulting from LPS injection were not present in mice treated with lactoferrin. Also, histological examination of intestine revealed remarkable resistance to injury produced by LPS if mice were pretreated with lactoferrin. Severe villus atrophy, edema and epithelial vacuolation were observed in LPS-treated animals but not in lactoferrin-treated counterparts. Electrophysiological parameters were used to assess secretory and absorptive functions in the small intestine. In mice treated with LPS, transmural electrical resistance was reduced and absorption of glucose was increased. Lactoferrin treatment had no significant influence on basal electrophysiological correlates of net ion secretion or glucose absorption nor on changes induced by LPS. Collectively, these results suggest that lactoferrin attenuates the lethal effect of LPS and modulates behavioral and histopathological sequela of endotoxemia.