Binge ethanol (EtOH) consumption suppresses inflammatory responses and resistance to infection, but paradoxically it is associated with increased levels of acute phase proteins (which are indicators of inflammation) and an increased risk of inflammation-mediated pathologies such as cardiovascular disease and cirrhosis of the liver. The latter effect may be mediated by increased translocation of bacteria leading to activation of toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4). In this study, the dose-response and time course of the effects of EtOH alone or EtOH in conjunction with a TLR4 agonist (lipopolysaccharide [LPS]) were evaluated in mice. EtOH alone at a dosage of 6 g/kg induced an acute phase response (as indicated by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for serum amyloid A and serum amyloid P) that was maximal 24 h after dosing. Lower dosages of EtOH did not have this effect but did suppress the acute phase response to LPS and the production of interleukin-6 up to 3 h after dosing. EtOH at 6 g/kg did not induce an acute phase response in C3H/HeJ (TLR4 mutant) mice, indicating that this response is mediated through TLR4. These results provide a resolution for the apparently paradoxical pro- and anti-inflammatory actions of EtOH with regard to acute phase responses. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.