There exists no ideal model for experimental ulcerative colitis in common laboratory animals. Therefore, we tried in the present study to establish a reproducible model for inducing colitis in rats by using acetic acid. A blind loop of the colon including the cecum, ascending colon and part of the transverse colon, was brought out through two colostomies. After mechanical washing with warm normal saline, acetic acid was instilled at different doses (4, 6 and 8 %) for different exposure times (10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 s). The excluded colon was examined by light microscopy on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 7th and 14th days after operation and acetic acid instillation. We found that 4 % acetic acid for 15 s produced a moderate, superficial colitis on the 1st day after operation, whereafter a uniform colitis evolved in all rats on the 4th day after operation. The developed colitis showed morphological similarities with human ulcerative colitis. Signs of healing and regeneration of the mucosa were seen on the 7th day, and the mucosa became almost normal at the 14th day after operation. 6 or 8% acetic acid solution or exposure times exceeding 15 s resulted in severe, deep colitis with a concomitant high mortality rate. In contrast, at exposure times less than 15 s, acetic acid induced only mild superficial colitis. We conclude that by using 4% acetic acid for 15 s in the excluded colon a uniform and reproducible colitis pathologically resembling human ulcerative colitis could be achieved. Furthermore, no mortality was encountered and the general health of the rats was similar to that of the controls. We suggest that this model is useful for studies on the pathophysiology and treatment of colitis.