Adult male mice were kept for one week either one or four animals per cage. Some were maintained under the same social conditions for an additional 9 days (controls); their counterparts were either grouped (4 per cage) or isolated (1 per cage). Changes in housing conditions caused a significant increase of plasma corticosterone measured 30 minutes after separation or grouping of SWISS, C57C3H, and BALB/c but not of C57BL/6 mice. Peritoneal inflammation was induced by i.p. zymosan injection on day 9 after changes in housing conditions when corticosterone was again at its initial level in each group. Peritonitis-connected pain symptoms, exudatory PMN numbers, and cytokine (IL-1_ and MPC-1) and corticosterone levels were compared between animals living in stable social conditions with those shifted 9 days earlier from separation to the group or vice versa. These factors were unaffected by social stress in C57BL/6 mice and in SWISS animals transferred from the group to isolation. In all other instances at least two parameters were significantly different in the post-stressed and control animals, being either enhanced or inhibited. In conclusion, social stress had long-term consequences on the course of inflammation in three out of four investigated strains of mice.