Female Swiss mice were treated for 24 weeks, with 3-hydroxy-4-pyrone (Py) added to their powdered diet at 0.5% (wt/wt), and the effects of this agent on the liver were examined. Serum transaminases (especially GPT) rose continuously, while the GOT/GPT ratio remained at approximately 1.0 throughout the study period. The characteristic changes found from 8 weeks onward were piecemeal necrosis and bridging necrosis of the hepatocytes with dense lymphocytic infiltration. Proliferation of collagen fibers in the portal tracts and formation of narrow fibrous septa dividing the lobules into pseudolobules were also noted from 12 weeks onward. A large number of the infiltrating lymphocytes were identified as T cells by immunohistochemical and electron microscopic studies. These lymphocytes often surrounded or were closely attached to degenerating hepatocytes. Focal apoptosis and necrosis accompanied by a granulomatous reaction of the centrilobular hepatocytes were noted as early changes in the liver. Our findings indicate that the hepatic changes produced in mice by long-term Py administration have characteristics in common with those of human chronic active hepatitis. Immunological cytotoxic mechanisms, especially T cell-mediated ones, appear to play an essential role in the development of hepatic lesions in this murine model of chronic active hepatitis.