1. Pirfenidone, an antifibrotic compound with anti-inflammatory effects, has been investigated in a rat model of acute experimental ischaemia-reperfusion injury of the small intestine. 2. Occlusion of the superior mesenteric artery in young adult female rats for 30 min followed by reperfusion for 120 min induced significant local and systemic effects, including tissue haemorrhage with oedema, elevated serum concentrations of tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, neutropenia, hypotension and bradycardia. 3. Administration of pirfenidone (200 mg/kg, p.o., i.v. or i.p.) 30 min before occlusion completely inhibited the increase in serum TNF-alpha concentrations. Pirfenidone inhibited, but did not completely prevent, tissue damage in the small intestine, as well as hypotension and oedema, but neutropenia and bradycardia were not significantly changed by treatment. 4. Thus, pirfenidone effectively moderates both local and some systemic effects of ischaemia-reperfusion injury in the rat small intestine model.