The aim of this study was to investigate the factors limiting the blood-brain barrier (BBB) transport of colistin in healthy mice and to assess the impact of systemic inflammation on the transport of this antibiotic across the BBB. Colistin sulfate (40 mg/kg) was administered subcutaneously to Swiss outbred mice as single and multiple doses to determine any relationship between brain uptake and plasma concentrations of colistin. To assess the effect of P-glycoprotein (P-gp) on BBB transport, colistin sulfate (5 mg/kg) was concomitantly administered intravenously with PSC833 or GF120918 (10 mg/kg). Systemic inflammation was induced by three intraperitoneal injections of lipopolysaccharide (LPS; 3 mg/kg), and BBB transport of colistin was subsequently measured following subcutaneous administration and by an in situ brain perfusion. The brain uptake of colistin was low following single and multiple subcutaneous doses, with brain-to-plasma concentration ratios ranging between 0.021 and 0.037, and this was not significantly enhanced by coadministration of GF120918 or PSC833 (P > 0.05). LPS significantly increased the brain uptake of subcutaneously administered colistin with area under the brain concentration time curve (AUC(brain)) values of 11.7 A? 2.7 I?gA?h/g and 4.0 A? 0.3 I?gA?h/g for LPS- and saline-treated mice, respectively (mean A? standard deviation). Similarly, in situ perfusion of colistin led to higher antibiotic brain concentrations in LPS-treated animals than in saline-treated animals, with colistin brain-to-perfusate concentration ratios of 0.019 A? 0.001 and 0.014 A? 0.001, respectively. This study demonstrates that the BBB transport of colistin is negligible in healthy mice; however, brain concentrations of colistin can be significantly enhanced during systemic inflammation, as might be observed in infected patients.