Staphylococcal enterotoxin B and related toxins that target T cells have the capacity to elicit systemic inflammation, tissue injury, and death. Genes that encode mediators of inflammation can be globally inhibited by blocking the nuclear import of stress-responsive transcription factors. Here we show that cell-permeant peptides targeting Rch1/importin alpha/karyopherin alpha 2, a nuclear import adaptor protein, are delivered to T cells where they inhibit the staphylococcal enterotoxin B-induced production of inflammatory cytokines ex vivo in cultured primary spleen cells and in vivo. The systemic production of tumor necrosis factor alpha, interferon gamma, and interleukin-6 was attenuated in mice either by a cell-permeant cyclized form of SN50 peptide or by a transgene whose product suppresses the nuclear import of transcription factor nuclear factor kappa B in T cells. The extent of liver apoptosis and hemorrhagic necrosis was also reduced, which correlated with significantly decreased mortality rates. These findings highlight nuclear import inhibitors as a potentially useful countermeasure for staphylococcal enterotoxin B and other toxins that trigger harmful systemic inflammatory responses.