An experimental model of chronic pancreatitis was induced by a retrograde injection of a viscous solution consisting of zein-oleic acid-linoleic acid (0.05 ml/100 g body weight) into the rat pancreatic duct. Histologic and biochemical changes were investigated over a period of 6 months after induction of this model. The treated rats gained weight, but pancreatic weight decreased with time. Histologically, the widening of acinar lumen and cellular vacuolization occurred within 24 h at the parenchyma neighboring the small ducts filled with the injected solution. Degenerative parenchyma, interstitial edema, and inflammatory cell infiltration were pronounced 1 week later. Thereafter, duct-like tubular complex formation progressed, and the exocrine tissue exhibited marked atrophy of the gland with irregular fibrosis and fat replacement over a period of 6 months. Pancreatic contents of protein, amylase, DNA, and RNA markedly decreased, as did pancreatic weight, whereas hydroxyproline content increased. Oral administration of camostat did not affect pancreatic weight and contents of enzyme in this model. Urinary para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) excretion in the BT-PABA test decreased to 54% at 6 weeks and 22% at 6 months. Although three quarters of pancreatic immunoreactive insulin (IRI) content was lost after 6 months, overt diabetes did not occur. The results suggest that an obstructive mechanism in the small ducts plays an important role in the genesis and development of chronic pancreatitis.