This study examined clinical and inflammatory mediator parameters during the development of snuff-induced mucosal lesions. Nineteen smokeless tobacco (ST) users placed moist snuff at designated new placement sites over either a 2- or 7-day period. By day 2, the predominant clinical alteration was an erythematous reaction, and one-third of the subjects demonstrated white striations in combination with erythema or ulceration. By 7 days, 56% of the subjects displayed white striated lesions. Tissue concentrations (pg/mg) of IL-1beta were 4.6+/-1.6 at new placement sites as compared with 0.7+/-0.4 at control sites (P<0.05). PGE2 and IL-1alpha concentrations also were significantly higher (P<0.05) at new placement sites as compared with control sites (9.4+/-2.2 vs 4.1+/-0.7 and 6.2+/-1.3 vs 3.2+/-0.7, respectively). In view of the recognized role of PGE2 and IL-1 in immune and inflammatory functions, these mediators may play a role in the pathogenesis of clinical alterations at ST placement sites.