Inflammation of the rat jejunum with Trichinella spiralis causes altered smooth muscle contractility by day 6 postinfection (PI). We investigated the association of structural change in the smooth muscle layers with inflammation. By day 6 PI, smooth muscle area in cross sections of jejunum increased (P less than 0.05) in longitudinal (LM) and circular (CM) muscle layers. Nuclei counting in cross sections showed that cell number increased two- to threefold in CM and LM, and this increase was not reversed on day 23 PI. Estimation of cell size showed significant hypertrophy by day 6 PI in both muscle layers. [3H]thymidine autoradiography showed that the labeling index (LI) of jejunal LM and CM increased sharply on day 4 PI and peaked on day 6 PI (10- to 15-fold increase). The noninflamed ileum showed a smaller trophic response, with no significant change in area or nuclei number, the LI was increased only on day 6 PI in the ileal CM and was unchanged in LM. Thus extensive hyperplasia and hypertrophy of smooth muscle cells are associated with intestinal inflammation.