We investigated the requirement for tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and interleukin (IL)-1 receptors in the pathogenesis of the pulmonary and hepatic responses to Escherichia coli lipopolysaccharide (LPS) by studying wild-type mice and mice deficient in TNF type 1 receptor [TNFR1 knockout (KO)] or both TNF type 1 and IL-1 receptors (TNFR1/IL-1R KO). In lung tissue, NF-kappaB activation was similar among the groups after exposure to aerosolized LPS. After intraperitoneal injection of LPS, NF-kappaB activation in liver was attenuated in TNFR1 KO mice and further diminished in TNFR1/IL-1R KO mice; however, in lung tissue, no impairment in NF-kappaB activation was found in TNFR1 KO mice and only a modest decrease was found in TNFR1/IL-1R KO mice. Lung concentrations of KC and macrophage-inflammatory peptide 2 were lower in TNFR1 KO and TNFR1/IL-1R KO mice after aerosolized and intraperitoneal LPS. We conclude that LPS-induced NF-kappaB activation in liver is mediated through TNF-alpha- and IL-1 receptor-dependent pathways, but, in the lung, LPS-induced NF-kappaB activation is largely independent of these receptors.