Platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) exerts neurotrophic and neuromodulatory actions in the mammalian central nervous system (CNS). Like the cytokines, PDGF primarily signals through tyrosine phosphorylation-dependent pathways that activate multiple intracellular molecules including Janus family kinases. We previously showed that microinjection of PDGF-BB into the lateral ventricle induced a febrile response in rats that was reduced by pretreatment with Win 41662, a potent inhibitor of PDGF receptors (Pelá IR, Ferreira MES, Melo MCC, Silva CAA, and Valenzuela CF. Ann NY Acad Sci 856: 289-293, 1998). In this study, we further characterized the role of PDGF-BB in the febrile response in rats. Microinjection of PDGF-BB into the third ventricle produced a dose-dependent increase in colonic temperature that peaked 3-4 h postinjection. Win 41662 attenuated fever induced by intraperitoneal injection of bacterial lipopolysaccharide, suggesting that endogenous PDGF participates in the febrile response to this exogenous pyrogen. Importantly, febrile responses induced by tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin-1beta, and interleukin-6 were unchanged by Win 41662. Both indomethacin and dexamethasone blocked the PDGF-BB-induced increase in colonic temperature, and, therefore, we postulate that PDGF-BB may act via prostaglandin- and/or inducible enzyme-dependent pathways. Thus our findings suggest that PDGF-BB is an endogenous CNS mediator of the febrile response in rats.