It is well established that glucocorticoids are key regulators of the immune system and act as immunosuppressive agents in high concentrations. In the pig, effects on the gut immune system and trafficking of lymphocytes between tissues and blood plasma were not investigated so far. Twelve pigs of 70 kg were fed 0.4 mg portions of dexamethasone (Dexa) twice daily for 9 days or remained untreated (controls) and were sacrificed for tissue collection at the end of Dexa treatment. Another six pigs with jugular vein catheters were left untreated for 7 days (control period) and then received Dexa for 9 days. Blood was drawn twice during the control period and at days 3, 6 and 9 of the Dexa period for characterization of peripheral blood leukocytes. Cells were obtained from thymus, mesenteric lymph nodes, jejunal mucosa and Peyer"s patches. Lymphoid cells from gut tissue were isolated from two fractions: the EDTA-fraction, containing the intraepithelial lymphocytes (IEL), and the Collagenase-fraction, containing the lamina propria lymphocytes (LPL). In all samples, cell counts and phenotypic characterization of cells by flow cytometry (FCM) were performed. In thymus, Dexa led to a more than 90% reduction of the absolute cell number, which was mainly found in the CD4+CD8+ subpopulation. Dexa effects on lymphocytes from mesenteric lymph nodes were less severe (50%) and led mainly to a decrease (71%) of B-lymphocytes. The number of lymphocytes in the EDTA-fraction (IEL) of the jejunal mucosa decreased significantly by 56% in the Dexa-treated animals compared to the controls, whereas the number of lymphocytes in the Collagenase-fraction (LPL) decreased only moderately. In the Peyer"s patches, a decreasing tendency in the number of lymphocytes in the EDTA-fraction was observed which, however, was not significant. In blood, monocytes and granulocytes were significantly increased in an order of 60%. The data show that supraphysiological amounts of Dexa remarkably reduce cell numbers in thymus and also in the intraepithelial compartment of the jejunal mucosa and ileal Peyer"s patches. In blood, a notable homeostasis was observed for several leukocyte populations whereas both monocytes and granulocytes increased.