The present study was performed to assess the protective effect of salvianolic acid B on lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced acute lung injury (ALI). Sprague Dawley rats were injected with 100 µg/kg LPS through a 24-gauge catheter. One group of rats was pre-treated with salvianolic acid B (1 mg/ml; 20 ml/kg body weight) 1 h prior to LPS challenge, then 20 ml/kg salvianolic acid B every 2 days for 4 weeks thereafter. Salvianolic acid B attenuated LPS-induced increases in the lung wet/dry weight rate and lung tissue injury in ALI model rats. LPS-induced changes in the content of caspase-3, malondialdehyde, superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase, tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin-6 in ALI model rats were attenuated by treatment with salvianolic acid B. Furthermore, treatment with salvianolic acid B inhibited the protein expression of type I collagen I, endogenous transforming growth factor-β1 production and α-smooth muscle actin in ALI model rats. These findings indicated that salvianolic acid B attenuates LPS-induced ALI through inhibition of apoptosis, oxidative stress and inflammation in rats and therefore exertsa protective effect against ALI.