The aim of this study was to determine the effect of Escherichia coli (E.coli)-derived lipopolysaccharide on rat plasma low density lipoprotein (LDL), malondialdehyde and 3-nitrotyrosine levels (an indicator of protein nitration). Six hours after intraperitoneal administration of E.coli, plasma LDL was measured electrophoretically and malondialdehyde level was measured by spectrophotometric method. Plasma malondialdehyde was significantly (p <0.001) elevated in E.coli-injected rats (4.97 +/- 1.33; n=10) in comparison to control animals (1.83 +/- 0.5; n=10). In addition, plasma 3-nitrotyrosine level, determined by reverse-phase HPLC, was also increased in the infected group (2.84 +/- 1.17 to 0.22 +/- 0.13; n=10). This increase was statistically significant (p <0.001). An increased level of oxidation of lipids and 3-nitrotyrosine was observed as a result of free radical-mediated damage in plasma. In conclusion, asymptomatic infections may increase the risk of atherosclerosis by inducing free radical formation and a consequent increase in the oxidation of LDL.