Thiourea-based molecules cause pulmonary edema when administered to rats at relatively low doses. However, rats survive normally lethal doses after prior exposure to a lower, nonlethal dose; this phenomenon is known as tolerance. The present study investigated the morphological and functional aspects of acute lung injury (ALI) induced by methylphenylthiourea (MPTU) in the Wistar rat and the pulmonary response involved in prevention of the injury. We identified pulmonary endothelial cells as the main target of acute MPTU injury; they exhibited ultrastructural alterations that can result in increased vascular permeability. In tolerant rats, the lungs showed only transient endothelial changes, at 24-hour post dosing, and mild type II pneumocyte hyperplasia on day 7 post dosing. They exhibited glutathione levels similar to the controls and increased expression of flavin-containing monooxygenase 1 (FMO1), the enzyme responsible for bioactivation of small thioureas in the laboratory rat. Incubation of rat pulmonary microsomal preparations with MPTU inhibited FMO activity, indicating that tolerance is related to irreversible inhibition of FMOs. The rat model of thiourea-induced pulmonary toxicity and tolerance represents an interesting approach to investigate certain aspects of the pathogenesis of ALI and therapeutic approaches to lung diseases, such as acute respiratory distress syndrome.