PURPOSE: Lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a bacterial endotoxin, is known to stimulate leuokotriene B4 (LTB4) secretion by human corneal (HCECs), conjunctival (HConjECs) and meibomian gland (HMGECs) epithelial cells. We hypothesize that this LTB4 effect represents an overall induction of proinflammatory gene expression in these cells. Our objective was to test this hypothesis. METHODS: Immortalized HCECs, HConjECs and HMGECs were cultured in the presence or absence of LPS (15 μg/ml) and ligand binding protein (LBP; 150 ng/ml). Cells were then processed for RNA isolation and the analysis of gene expression by using Illumina BeadChips, background subtraction, cubic spline normalization and GeneSifter software. RESULTS: Our findings show that LPS induces a striking increase in proinflammatory gene expression in HCECs and HConjECs. These cellular reactions are associated with a significant up-regulation of genes associated with inflammatory and immune responses (e.g. IL-1β, IL-8, and tumor necrosis factor), including those related to chemokine and Toll-like receptor signaling pathways, cytokine-cytokine receptor interactions, and chemotaxis. In contrast, with the exception of Toll-like signaling and associated innate immunity pathways, almost no proinflammatory ontologies were upregulated by LPS in HMGECs. CONCLUSIONS: Our results support our hypothesis that LPS stimulates proinflammatory gene expression in HCECs and HConjECs. However, our findings also show that LPS does not elicit such proinflammatory responses in HMGECs.