Hemorrhagic shock suppresses the ability of Kupffer cells (KC) to present antigen and express the major histocompatibility complex class II (Ia) antigen. These alterations are concomitant with an enhanced release of cytokines (tumor necrosis factor [TNF], interleukin-1 [IL-1], IL-6) and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) by KC after hemorrhagic shock. The aim of this study was to determine whether chloroquine (CQ) administration in vivo before or after hemorrhage affects the altered cytokine and PGE2 release by KC as well as the capacity of KC to present antigen and express Ia. To study this, C3H/HeN mice were bled to and maintained at a mean arterial blood pressure of 35 mm Hg for 60 minutes, followed by fluid resuscitation. Chloroquine (10 mg/kg body weight) was injected intramuscularly 2 hours before or during resuscitation following shock. The administration of CQ led to a significant reduction in the hemorrhage-induced elevation of TNF, IL-6, and PGE2 release by KC; however, IL-1 secretion was not affected by CQ. In addition, CQ treatment abolished the hemorrhage-induced increase in circulating TNF and IL-6. These changes in cytokine and PGE2 release following CQ administration correlated with a significant enhancement of the antigen-presenting capacity of KC. No differences were observed between pretreatment and posttreatment with CQ. Our data indicate that CQ selectively inhibits the release of TNF, IL-6, and PGE2 by KC, while IL-1 secretion was unaffected. Because the reduction of these inflammatory mediators was concomitant with a significant improvement of KC capacity to present antigen and express Ia, we propose that TNF, IL-6, and PGE2 play a pivotal role in the induction of posthemorrhage immunosuppression. Furthermore, the data suggest that the suppression of KC functions occurs during or after resuscitation, because posttreatment with CQ was as effective as pretreatment. Additional studies indicated that the survival of animals after hemorrhage and sepsis was significantly increased by posttreatment of hemorrhaged mice with CQ. Thus, CQ, because of its unique ability to selectively inhibit the release of inflammatory cytokines and prostaglandins, represents a potent immunomodulating agent in the treatment of conditions associated with increased cytokine release and for decreasing the mortality from sepsis after hemorrhage.