We investigated the effects of the water soluble fraction of Terminalia chebula (Combretaceae) (WFTC) on systemic and local anaphylaxis. WFTC administered 1h before compound 48/80 injection inhibited compound 48/80-induced anaphylactic shock 100% with doses of 0.01-1.0 g/kg. When WFTC was administered 5 or 10 min after compound 48/80 injection, the mortality also decreased in a dose-dependent manner. Passive cutaneous anaphylaxis was inhibited by 63.5+/-7.8% by oral administration of WFTC (1.0 g/kg). When WFTC was pretreated at concentrations ranging from 0.005 to 1.0 g/kg, the serum histamine levels were reduced in a dose-dependent manner. WFTC (0.01-1.0 mg/ml) also significantly inhibited histamine release from rat peritoneal mast cells (RPMC) by compound 48/80. However, WFTC (1.0 mg/ml) had a significant increasing effect on anti-dinitrophenyl IgE-induced tumor necrosis factor-alpha production from RPMC. These results indicate that WFTC may possess a strong antianaphylactic action.