Inoculation of mice with Listeria monocytogenes intragastrically or by parenteral routes has not been reported to cause peritonitis. In this study, however, severe listerial peritonitis was induced in mice infected subcutaneously and treated intraperitoneally with cyclosporin A (Cs A) in an oil carrier. In both uninfected and listeria-infected mice, intraperitoneal administration of Cs A consistently produced overexpression of P-selectin in the peritoneal microvasculature and pyogranulomatous inflammation of the peritoneum, suggesting that Cs A causes endothelial damage. We suggest that in listeria-infected mice the non-specific irritant peritonitis induced by the intraperitoneal administration of Cs A results in transfer of listeria-infected phagocytes from the liver and spleen to the peritoneal microvasculature, producing metastatic infection. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All Rights reserved.