(Submitter supplied) Background and Aims: We have shown in several controlled rat and human infection studies that dietary calcium improves intestinal resistance and strengthens the mucosal barrier. Reinforcement of gut barrier function is also relevant for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Therefore, we investigated the effect of supplemental calcium on spontaneous colitis development in HLA-B27 transgenic rats, an experimental animal model of IBD. Methods: HLA-B27 transgenic rats were fed a purified high-fat diet containing either a low or high calcium content (30 and 120 mmol CaHPO4/kg diet, respectively) for almost 7 weeks. Inert chromium ethylenediamine-tetraacetic acid (CrEDTA) was added to the diets to quantify intestinal permeability by measuring urinary CrEDTA excretion. Relative fecal dry-weight was determined to quantify diarrhea. Colonic inflammation was determined histologically, and by measuring mucosal interleukin-1β. In addition, colonic mucosal gene expression of individual rats was analyzed, using whole genome microarrays. Interesting results were verified by Q-PCR. Results: The high-calcium diet significantly prevented the increase in intestinal permeability and diarrhea with time in HLA-B27 rats developing colitis as compared to the low-calcium group. The histological colitis score and mucosal interleukin-1β levels were lower in high-calcium fed rats. Supplemental calcium prevented the colitis-induced increase in the expression of extracellular matrix remodeling genes (e.g. matrix metalloproteinases, procollagens and fibronectin), which was confirmed by Q-PCR. Conclusions: Dietary calcium inhibits colitis development in HLA-B27 transgenic rats. Calcium prevents the colitis-related increase in intestinal permeability, diminishes diarrhea, and lowers the inflammatory response in the mucosa, resulting in less extracellular matrix breakdown.