OBJECTIVE To observe the effect of mild-moxibustion on serum amyloid-A (SAA) protein, cytokine contents and liver amyloid-A protein expression in atherosclerosis rabbits, so as to explore its anti-inflammation mechanism. METHODS A total of 40 Japanese male rabbits were equally randomized into normal control, model, mild moxibustion and medication (lovastatin) groups. The atherosclerosis model was established by feeding the animals with high-fat diet for 14 weeks and intravenous injection of bovine serum albumin (250 mg/kg, once every week, 3 times altogether). Mild moxibustion was applied to "Shenque" (CV 8), "Housanli" (ST 36) for 10 min, once daily for 14 weeks beginning from the first day of modeling. The SAA, serum IL-6, TNF-alpha and IL-10 contents were determined by double antibody sandwich method, and liver amyloid-A protein expression was detected by Western blot. The pathological changes of the cervical common artery were detected by H. E. staining. RESULTS In comparison with the normal control group, SAA, serum IL-6, IL-10 and TNF-alpha contents and liver amyloid-A protein expression level were significantly increased in the model group (P < 0.01, P < 0.05). Compared to the model group, SAA, serum IL-6 and TNF-alpha contents, and liver amyloid-A protein expression level were considerably down-regulated and serum IL-10 content was obviously up-regulated in the moxibustion and medication groups (P < 0.05, P < 0.01). No significant differences were found between the moxibustion and medication groups in the five indexes (P > 0.05). In addition, the pathological changes of the cervical common arterial endomembrane in the moxibustion and medication group were relatively milder, suggesting a protective effect of moxibustion on liver tissue in atherosclerosis rabbits. CONCLUSION Mild moxibustion can relieve liver injury in atherosclerosis rabbits, which is associated with its effects in suppressing serum inflammatory cytokines and liver amyloid-A protein expression and up-regulating anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 level.