Patients with septic shock have high plasma glutathione concentrations, whereas intracellular concentrations in erythrocytes and muscle are low. In the present study, we investigated the temporal pattern of glutathione status and glutathione kinetics in healthy volunteers during the initial phase of sepsis using a human endotoxin model. The present study was a descriptive pilot study in healthy male volunteers (n=8) before and after an endotoxin challenge. The glutathione status was determined in plasma and whole blood at baseline and hourly for 4 h after intravenous endotoxin injection and in skeletal muscle at baseline and at 2 and 4 h after endotoxin injection. In plasma, the concentration of total glutathione decreased 24% (P<0.05) at 3 h after endotoxin injection and 32% (P<0.001) at 4 h. In whole blood and skeletal muscle, the concentrations of both GSH and total glutathione as well as the redox status remained unaltered during the initial 4 h after the endotoxin challenge. The FSR (fractional synthesis rate) of glutathione in whole blood was 38+/-20%/day before and 59+/-22%/day 4 h after the endotoxin challenge (P=0.088) and in skeletal muscle this was 41+/-25 and 46+/-18%/day (P=0.68) respectively. During the initial phase of sepsis, as represented by an intravenous endotoxin challenge to healthy volunteers, plasma concentrations of total glutathione decreased, whereas glutathione status and synthesis rate in skeletal muscle and whole blood remained unaltered. However, due to the variation in the synthesis measurements, larger studies are needed to confirm these findings.