Background Intervention of the biliary system is frequently done in patients with obstructive jaundice and is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. The pathogenesis is unknown. Materials and methods A rat model of bile duct ligation (BDL) for 2 weeks was established in which biliary intervention was feasible by injection of normal saline through an indwelling catheter in the bile ducts. Plasma levels of C-C chemokine MCP-1 and C-X-C chemokine MIP-2 were measured by using ELISA. Blood monocytes, Kupffer cells, and neutrophils in the liver were characterized with antibodies to ED1, ED2, and myeloperoxidase (MPO). Lipid peroxidation was measured by malondialdehyde contents and apoptosis by TUNEL stain of the liver. Results Biliary intervention resulted in an increase of plasma MCP-1 and MIP-2 proteins by 1 h, which declined to normal level by 3 h in both sham and BDL rats. The levels in BDL rats were significantly higher than in sham at most points. There was a transient increase of ED1- and ED2-positive cells and MPO-staining cells in sham rat liver by 1 h after intervention. ED2-positive cells increased significantly by 1 h, while ED1- and MPO-positive cells decreased, yet insignificantly after intervention in BDL rats. The cell counts in BDL were constantly higher than in sham. Malondialdehyde increased precipitously in BDL by 3 h and was significantly higher than in sham throughout the study period. Parenchymal liver injury, manifested by elevated ALT, as well as apoptosis and necrosis of liver cells, was significantly increased in BDL rats, but not in sham rats. Conclusion Biliary intervention augments chemokine expression, precipitates lipid peroxidation, and aggravates liver injury in cholestatic rats.