Our aim was to develop an explant model to define more precisely the early response of bovine mammary epithelial cells to infection. Therefore we investigated the mRNA expression encoding for some soluble immunological factors in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-treated bovine mammary gland explants. Explants were taken out from the mammary gland of eight lactating cows after slaughter then incubated with LPS (10 μg/ml) for 6 h. The mRNA expression of α-lactalbumin (α-la), various cytokines, tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α, interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, IL-8, and two immunoglobulin receptors, the neonatal Fc receptor (FcRn) and polymeric immunoglobulin receptor (pIGR), were assessed with qPCR before and after 3 h and 6 h of LPS challenge. Both immunoglobulin receptors and α-la increased at 3 h then recovered their initial level at 6 h whereas IL-1β, IL-6 and IL-8 increased only after 6 h (P<0·05). Surprisingly, TNF-α transcripts did not show any regulation in response to the LPS treatment. We nevertheless concluded that our model was valid to examine the short-term response of mammary epithelial cell challenged with LPS.