Although tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and interleukin 6 (IL 6) are purported to be important mediators of inflammatory responses following trauma, it is not known if the serum levels of these cytokines are altered by simple hemorrhage. The objective of this study therefore was to determine whether or not: 1) there is any elevation of TNF or IL 6, and 2) if endotoxin, an important upregulator of these cytokines, is also increased following hemorrhage. To study this, C3H/HeN mice were bled to, and maintained at a mean blood pressure of 35 mmHg for 60 min, and then resuscitated with their own shed blood and adequate fluid. Mice were sacrificed at 30 min into hemorrhage and at 2, 4 or 24 hr post-hemorrhage to obtain serum samples. IL 6 and TNF levels were measured using cytokine dependent cellular assays. Using a quantitative Limulus amebocyte lysate assay, endotoxin levels were determined. TNF levels were significantly elevated at 30 min into hemorrhage, remaining so at 2 hr after resuscitation, but absent by 4 hr. Although there was a trend toward elevated IL 6 levels at 2 hr following hemorrhage, which was sustained up to 24 hr, the values were not significantly different from sham controls. When compared to controls, no marked increase in endotoxin was seen at any time point during or following hemorrhage. These results indicate that hemorrhage, in the absence of significant tissue trauma, causes enhanced TNF release which is not the result of increased endotoxin. © 1990.