The aetiology of inflammatory myopathies is not clearly known. A predominance of activated Cd8+ T lymphocytes in inflammatory infiltrates has already been detected. Superantigens activate lymphocytes in an oligoclonal manner. In the present investigation, we investigated local effects after injection of the superantigen (Sag) Staphylococcus enterotoxin A (SEA) in the quadriceps femoris muscle of Lewis rats. Histopathology and gene expression profiling was performed after injection of SEA or saline (control group) after one, three and 10 days. Histology revealed focal myositis predominated by Cd8+ T lymphocytes with a perimysial, endomysial and perivascular distribution, peaking 3 days after SEA injection. Using DNA microarray analysis (Affymetrix Rat Genome 230 2.0) genes that were differentially over-expressed at least 15 times at days one, three or ten after SEA injection were further analysed. One day after SEA injection over-expressed genes were related to the immune response (e.g. Fcnb, CD8a) but also to cell proliferation, differentiation and migration (e.g. Mpp2). Three days after SEA injection, differentially overexpressed genes were mainly related to the immune reaction with a clear signature for a Cd8+ T lymphocyte response (e.g. Cd3d, Cd8, Prf1, Gzmb). Ten days after SEA injection, the differentially overexpressed genes were again associated with the immune reaction (e.g. Cd3d, Il2) but also with regenerative processes and wound healing (e.g. Tgfa, Tpm1, Ripply1). The inflammatory response induced by SEA in Lewis rats shares histological and molecular similarities to polymyositis in humans. Therefore, SEA induced myositis can be taken as a new and apt model for polymyositis.