In this investigation the effects of immune activation on the brain are characterized. In order to study this, we used a model for chronic immune activation, the myocardial infarction, and intravenous injections with the pro-inflammatory cytokine Tumour Necrosis Factor alpha (TNF-α). The incentive for this study is the observation that myocardial infarction is accompanied by behavioural and neuronal abnormalities. The effects of myocardial infarction on the brain and its functioning are widespread. In order to examine the mechanism through which this interaction occurs, a group of rats underwent an experimentally induced myocardial infarction whereafter immunohistochemistry was performed on slices of the brain. This experiment revealed regional serum protein extravasation, pointing to leakage of the blood-brain barrier. This process occurred in certain cortical, subcortical and hindbrain areas in discrete patches. The leakage was co-localized with the expression of the immune activation marker ICAM-1. A second group of rats was therefore injected with TNF-α, a major pro-inflammatory cytokine, to assess the involvement of the immune system in the effects shown. This procedure rendered the same results. It is concluded that myocardial infarction may interfere with the integrity of the blood-brain barrier and possibly with brain functioning through activation of the immune system. The relevance for pathophysiological processes is discussed.