BACKGROUND Hypothermia is a frequent event in severe acute pancreatitis (AP) and its real effects on the normal pancreas have not been well demonstrated. Moreover, neither have its effects on the outcome of acute pancreatitis been fully investigated. One hypothesis is that oxidative stress may be implicated in lesions caused or treated by hypothermia. AIM OF THE STUDY To investigate the effect of hypothermia in cerulein-induced acute pancreatitis (CIAP) in rats and the role played by oxidative stress in this process. METHODS Male Wistar rats were divided into hypothermic and normothermic groups. Hypothermia was induced with a cold mattress and rectal temperature was kept at 30 masculineC for one hour. Acute pancreatitis was induced with 2 doses of cerulein (20 ìg/kg) administered at a one-hour interval. Serum amylase, pancreas vascular permeability by Evan's blue method, pancreas wet-to-dry weight ratio and histopathology were analyzed in each group. RESULTS When compared with normothermic rats, hypothermic animals, with cerulein-induced acute pancreatitis, showed higher levels of pancreatic vascular permeability (p < 0.05), pancreas wet-to-dry weight ratio (p = 0.03), and histologically verified edema (p < 0.05), but similar serum amylase levels. The hypothermic group showed a higher oxidized-reduced glutathione ratio than the normothermic group. CONCLUSION Moderate hypothermia produced a greater inflammatory response in established acute pancreatitis induced by cerulein in rats. Moreover, this study suggests that oxidative stress may be one of the mechanisms responsible for the worse outcome in hypothermic rats with cerulein-induced acute pancreatitis.