We tested the hypothesis that interleukin 1 (IL-1) mediates intra-amniotic lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced chorioamnionitis in preterm fetal sheep. Time-mated Merino ewes with singleton fetuses received IL-1alpha, LPS, or saline (control) by intra-amniotic injection 1 to 2 days before operative delivery at 124 +/- 1 days gestational age (N = 5-9/group; term = 150 days). Recombinant human IL-1 receptor antagonist (rhIL-1ra) was given into the amniotic fluid 3 hours before intra-amniotic LPS or saline to block IL-1 signaling. Inflammation in the chorioamnion was determined by histology, cytokine messenger RNA (mRNA), protein expression, and by quantitation of activated inflammatory cells. Intra-amniotic IL-1 and LPS both induced chorioamnionitis. However, IL-1 blockade with IL-1ra did not decrease intra-amniotic LPS-induced increases in pro-inflammatory cytokine mRNAs, numbers of inflammatory cells, myeloperoxidase, or monocyte chemotactic protein-1-expressing cells in the chorioamnion. We conclude that IL-1 and LPS both can cause chorioamnionitis, but IL-1 is not an important mediator of LPS-induced chorioamnionitis in fetal sheep.